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RivetSmasher

Choosing Troops

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A little back story before I get into the question.

 

When I was a Cub Scout in the late 80s early 90s my Pack didn't have a Troop associated with it. Rather than choose one of the 2/3 troops in my town, I chose one in a neighboring town. They are the local super troop. We went on a fairly decent trip for 2 weeks every summer, 2 weeks at camp, and generally locked in the top places in Camporees. We were everywhere.

 

Fast forward 25 years. I am my sons Den Leader and have been since his Tiger year. He's now Arrow of Light and it's time to select a troop. The Troop associated with our Pack does some things I don't agree with.

 

Several of the boys have attained Eagle by the age of 14. I'm not sure how that works with required Leadership times. These kids can't be learning how to be a leader.

 

They don't require the boys to wear full uniforms, jeans are acceptable pants for everyone including the adults.

 

Summer camp is an optional thing that isn't pushed. In my mind camping is one of the biggest parts of the program.

 

After living in this town for nearly 9 years I have never seen a single fundraiser or service project, they don't even participate in Scouting for Food. Scouting for Food is left to the Cubs.

 

I have personally witnessed nepotism.

 

I could go on a bit more but I think you get the gist.

 

I have been looking into other troops for several years now and found one that I think is on par with what the Scouting program is. It's in another town about 20 minutes away. I have 8 boys in my Den crossing over, 3 have brothers in the troop, 3 are undecided(including mine), and 2 may not continue. I have done my best not to short sell the local troop but I'm concerned I have tainted some of the other boys.

 

When I ask my son he says he wants to be with his friends, they are the kids going to the local troop. In an effort to preempt this I had him attend summer camp this year with the boys from the other town whom he'd be crossing over with. He gets along well with them and the awkwardness lasted only a few minutes on the first day of camp

 

I know I can't ask you all to make my decision but some guidance would be helpful. Thanks, RivetSmasher

Edited by RivetSmasher

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well, I think many will say boys like to be with their friends and that improves the likelihood of retention.  I would have to agree. 

 

Your son can always wear the full uniform.  model the standard you want, don't lower your to match.  go to summer camp, try to emphasize it yourself.  again model the pgm you want--organize the SFF or service project, maybe it doesnt happen because no one cares enough to step up.  I can not believe anyone would actively oppose one organizing and leading such efforts. 

 

Your son can earn Eagle on his own pace.  No need to worry about the others.

 

No solution for the nepotism.  just gonna have to overcome.

 

I guess what I am saying is w/o being there and truly understanding the specifics of the dynamics of the troop in question, the majority of your issues could possibly be overcome, dealt with, worked around.  Or at least the option exists.

 

However, you could sit down with your son.  Explain your concerns about his troop choice, what you feel scouting should be.  see what he says, what matters to him.  I am sure you have done this.  In the end it is his ride and even at 10/11 they will start to pick their path.

 

 

I think a lot of what you bring up I agree with, but the boys are oblivious to and they will focus on their friends and having fun, which is more likely with their friends.

 

anyway good luck.  just an opinion.

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You can disagree all you like, but given the required time in positions of responsibility, a Scout would need to have a "job" in the Troop for 16 months to satisfy those requirements. If they work at it, go to all offered Merit Badge Universities, load up on MB classes at summer camp, etc. It is entirely possible to earn Eagle by 14, which could be 3.5 years of time in a Scout Troop if the are at 10.5 when they cross from Cub Scouts. Do I think it is the right thing? Depends on the Scout. My son earned his Life rank before his 14th birthday, with no prodding from me. He has slowed down since then, but school is a factor for him, especially now that he is in High School and taking an all honors course load. He is done with all requirements except for his project, which was just approved by our Council. He turned 15 in December, and will likely complete his project this spring.

 

Our Troop (I became SM in June of last year) has one fundraiser per year, we do a Scouting for Food drive each year. We go to Scout Camp every summer, but we can't force everyone to do any of the above activities. We encourage, a lot, but some kids and some families have other plans. We camp monthly, and we think we run a  good program. But it takes the will of the PLC and having an active group of adults to support a good program.

 

I would encourage you to get involved with your son's Troop- whatever decision he makes. I will second the above comment that being with his friends will make his Troop life that much better. But it is likely that the program pieces that you would like to see require more adults to be involved than they currently have- just a guess though.

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I still see scouts showing up to welcome cross-overs at B&G's in running pants.

I asked one if he needed uni pants (cause we maintain a uniform closet).

"Oh, no sir, I have three pairs at home. Thank you though."

  :unsure:

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First, you need to choose the troop that is the best fit for your son, not for you. If it's not a good fit for him, then you won't be able to keep him active. I agree with all of your points, but if my son was enthusiastic for that troop and his friends were going there, I would let him.

 

I believe there are really two factors.

 

The first is personality. Every troop has its own personality and it needs to be a fit for your son. For example, one of our local "super troops" is extremely regimented. They have a uniform inspection before every meeting, which requires full Class As, even down to whether their fingernails are clean. If they fail the uniform inspection they are not allowed to attend the meeting and are sent home. That's important because they also have attendance requirements. Neither of my boys would have been happy in a troop that regimented. On the other hand, some of the local troops are very slovenly about uniforms and standards. They wouldn't have been happy there, either. You need to make sure that the troops personality is a good fit for your son.

 

The second is friends. Your son will stay active in scouting longer if his friends are there. Not all of them, obviously, but enough to have a core group. For that reason, both of my dens decided on a troop together. Both dens had a couple of scouts who didn't go on to scouting in that troop, but overall most of the dens went to the same troops. Interestingly, the first den stayed tight and is tight with one another to this day. The second den has grown apart, but they are mostly still in scouts.

 

For sure you have to trade these off some. But in my opinion those are the two primary factors.

 

As for your feelings on the matter, I do not mean to imply that they are irrelevant. To some degree, your opinions are more informed and educated. But don't confuse that with what is best for your son or what your son wants to do.

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Several of the boys have attained Eagle by the age of 14. I'm not sure how that works with required Leadership times. These kids can't be learning how to be a leader.

 

They don't require the boys to wear full uniforms, jeans are acceptable pants for everyone including the adults.

 

Summer camp is an optional thing that isn't pushed. In my mind camping is one of the biggest parts of the program.

 

After living in this town for nearly 9 years I have never seen a single fundraiser or service project, they don't even participate in Scouting for Food. Scouting for Food is left to the Cubs.

 

I have personally witnessed nepotism.

 

I could go on a bit more but I think you get the gist.

 

These are all warning signs, IMHO, of a troop where advancement is the goal; not leadership, citizenship or personal growth. Unless the unit camps 12 months a year I don't see how an 11 year old can PROPERLY get in his camping and cooking and leadership and service requirements -- including the Eagle project -- by 14. Sure it happens, but in my experience I have yet to find an Eagle that young worthy of the true title. Yes, the completed the requirements; check the boxes and get your prize.

 

All that said, you son stands a better chance of staying in Scouting if he's with his friends. You'll just need to guide him around the fast-track to complacency and "just doing the requirements", rather than truly learning.

 

As for summer camp, maybe you can attend with that troop 20 minutes away if the local troop does not go.

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I know I can't ask you all to make my decision but some guidance would be helpful. Thanks, RivetSmasher

 

 

Well I was in the same boat a year ago, my son chose to go to the unit he felt he would enjoy the most so we make that 20 min drive to the better troop.  I am the committee chairman to the local troop, I am trying to get them better.  Not going to sacrifice my sons scouting adventure while I work to improve the troop.

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@@RivetSmasher, Welcome to the forums!

 

There's a lot not to like about the nearby troop. If you're lucky you would be able to change one or two things. But, there is a lot to be said for doing scouting with the boys in your neighborhood and branching out from there. Not the least, is 40 minutes of transit time saved every meeting night and activity.

 

So, if your son is persuaded to go this route, the way you could help this troop is join as either MC or ASM -- whatever they need, serve as directed, listen, get trained, serve some more, give time. Oh, and if someone in your family has land fit for a patrol to camp on, loan property for a weekend.

 

My Wood Badge buddy's ticket was to help his gandson's troop to be more boy led. This was after years of serving on the committee and putting up with religious differences on top of adult micromanagement. It turned out the SM really embraced the idea and the boys really stepped up.

 

Now, if you think that there are personality issues that would impede something like that happening with this troop, then it might be worth that 20 minute drive. We certainly benefited from boys who wanted to travel that far to be in a troop like ours.

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@@RivetSmasher 

 

I didn't want to hold off my welcome any longer, but it would look really dumb to just say "Welcome".

 

My only suggestion would be to step back, wait for your son to decide what HE wants to do, then ask him if it would be okay to get involved, too.  Then support his decision.  At age 10-11 that can be an overwhelming decision and hopefully as a parent you will understand.  It's kinda tough to do, considering you don't think like a 10 year old, so you'll have to listen carefully when he says what he wants and needs.

 

Glad you're on board the forum.  Nice subject to start out with.

Edited by Stosh

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#1 WELCOME TO DA FORUMS!

 

#2 I was about to ask if you are in my neck of the woods, but we have 3 troops within 2 miles of each other.

 

The troop your pack is associated with is very much like the the troop associated with my pack. Your son really needs to make that decision. I would visit as many troops as possible, and camp with as many as possible too.

 

In my situation, oldest son camped with my pack's troop, was not happy with how they were since it did not live up to how I described Scouting, not my old William Hillcourt handbooks he read. The troop camping next to us did impress him and he visited it and liked it. It was a 20 minute drive to meetings, but he was willing. Unfortunately that troop folded, and the search continued. He did find a troop, and is enjoying himself. Trop has had some ups and downs, but is going well.

 

And he made the decision.

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Maybe I'm confused, but what do you mean by super troop when you describe the troop you were in as a kid?  That sounds totally adult led.  Is that what you consider on par with what scouting should be?

Other than that I think you need to let your son decide.  Same advice everyone else gave - visit as many as possible and get a feel for the different styles.  Don't be afraid to switch troops if it isn't as advertised.

 

On a side note - Jason you're a CC for one troop while your son is in another?  I have so many questions I don't know where to start.

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I just want to note in addition to what @@Torchwood wrote, that not only is it entirely possible for a boy to earn his Eagle at 14, but also that we do a great disservice to young men of this age when we make sweeping generalizations that, at 14, they "cannot be learning leadership" or that boys of this age are "not worthy of the title." Frankly, I find such sentiments to be utterly untrue and unfair to the young men who achieve and accomplish in the face of such accusations. I have known boys of 14 who are far better leaders and citizens than even their own parents and Scoutmasters, and there are indeed many such youth who are sober-minded, quick to observe, and keenly aware of their responsibilities and potential. In fact, I find much more to admire in a pro-active young man who works hard to earn his Eagle at 14, than the multitudes of boys who procrastinate their efforts until they are 17 years and 360 days old and then expect adults to sweep in and get all the work done, for fear that if they don't intervene, the boy won't 'earn' his Eagle. Yet I think that such a boy deserves it far less than the boy who works hard when he is young and eager to achieve.

 

Let us not think so little of our 14-year-old Eagles that we fail to recognize what they have achieved. Advancement is too often looked down upon as though it is a sign of something 'wrong;' how can this be? How quickly we forget or ignore the fact that if boys really are learning things like leadership, citizenship, and personal growth, then their advancement will be the evidence of it. Baden-Powell put it simply: "Advancement is like a sun-tan - something you get naturally whilst having fun in the outdoors." We should be glad to see advancement, not suspicious of it.

 

If your boy does want to be a part of a Troop with his friends, then yes, he may advance quickly. But it is very possible (though to the shock of some perhaps) that such is the result of the boys enjoying rich participation, which will naturally foster rapid advancement and achievement. This is not necessarily the result of force-feeding by adults as often as some would like us to believe. It is just as possible, if not even more likely, that being with friends in an adventure such as Scouting will yield a rich harvest of accomplishment and advancement - because they are doing it together, as friends. The way Scouting should be. And if he can get his Eagle done before Scouting has to compete with High School, sports, girls, cars, etc., then all the better. 

 

I am forever grateful that I earned my Eagle as a young 14 year-old, before I entered high school; otherwise I can't imagine ever having found time to complete it. It was a sobering honor, and while I was indeed young, I can assure you, I had had the principles and ideals of Scouting deeply ingrained into my character. Mind you, this was not that long ago for me, and I remember it well. If I didn't earn it then, I would never have had time to complete it later! And then I wouldn't have carried with me that special honor, which prompted me to make the choice last year that I would accept the call to serve as a Den Leader for our den of Webelos Scouts, and which has given me the drive to encourage a new generation of boys to work to respect, and earn, the rank of Eagle Scout. 

 

So - let your son go with what his heart tells him! As Stosh points out, its hard for adults to understand the reasoning of boys so young, but if we listen to them and let them lead, we will give them a far greater advantage than any 'superior' Troop can give him - the advantage, and gift, of Trust. Trust your son, and he will yield a harvest of maturity and achievement that just might surprise you.  :happy:

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@@The Latin Scot, if you mean what @Col. Flag wrote he did say in his experience.

 

I have to say my experience mirrors the good Colonel. Scouts under 15 were never on par skillwise to those who were older. Not generalizing, just my experience. Yours may vary.

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My son joined a Troop just about 20 minutes away.  Knew of a couple of Scouts there but friends with none.  Met a couple new kids and became friends with them and basically liked having a couple friends from a different high school.  Worked out great.  (I preferred this Troop over closer local ones for many of the same reasons you stated.)  

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A little back story before I get into the question.

 

When I was a Cub Scout .... 

 

I know I can't ask you all to make my decision but some guidance would be helpful. Thanks, RivetSmasher

 

You are obviously a caring person who values scouting.  I can understand that and value that.

 

But your comments ... and my apologies to you for using this as an example ... are a key reason that I don't like the idea of troop shopping.  We say let the scout's choose, but then it's heavily biased by the adults with comments and actions such as more heavily marketing another troop or bringing the scout to their summer camp instead of the other troop.  And your comments and actions will then influence the other scouts in your den potentially against their best interest.  

 

I've found that scouters often view the way scouting "should" be done as the program they grew up in.  All other scouting programs are graded on their first experience as a scout.  All your comments are debatable and you as a leader could help improve the troop.  Some of your comments are also opposite of what I've been taught and what BSA documents.  Is it a major issue?  I don't know, but don't judge the local troop so harshly.  You could become a leader and find a way to make them better.  

 

BUT ... I guarantee you ... a troop that is a 20 minute drive away will cost you scouts.  If you have a local troop, try to work with them and make it a better troop in subtle ways.  

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