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mashmaster

What to do

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My son is getting more and more panicked with having to deal with a lot of younger scouts in our troop that behavior drives him crazy.  He is talking about quitting scouts which is killing me because I see the good that it does for him.  He is currently a patrol leader, signed up for Seabase and summer camp next summer and in the lottery for Philmont.  He is so busy with school, swim team, and scouts he is frazzled.  Mom is not helping by saying you should drop scouts....  sigh :-(

 

I am the scoutmaster which makes it even worse....

 

I know I am not the first to deal with this.  What have you done when this happened to you?

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First, this becomes an issue with many older youth as well as adults.  Young scouts are often bouncing off the walls and don't focus to get the work done.  I would suggest you guide him to be patient with the younger scouts and not punish him or the group for faults of those in his Patrol.  But this also means that the adults learn to be patient as well, a trait that took many of us a while to acquire.

 

If he is old enough, I would also suggest that you get him involved in activities where he can spend time with older Scouts, like Venturing and OA.  Being around mature youth may give him a perspective when dealing with the younger, hyper youth.

Danny

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Maybe this is an opportunity for a young man to learn how to balance things out.

 

Roses, thorns, and buds. What does he like, dislike, and look forward to in scouts, and swim team, and whatever. And really listen to him. This can be hard because you might not hear what you want to hear.

 

Start off with an easy one: Just a hunch, but would sea base be his first high adventure trip? If so then he really doesn't know what he might be missing. If there's a good group of older scouts going then this could really help.

 

Now a rough one: Dad's the SM, how is that going for him? Does he feel obligated to be there? I told my son he didn't have to get eagle because I was the SM. He got it because he wanted it.

 

About school, is it possible that he just went through midterms? If so, of course he's fried, this week.

 

You said he's really fed up with younger scouts that he doesn't know how to deal with. I've seen this before and to be honest, it's not just the PL that makes a patrol work. Maybe the whole patrol doesn't get it. How are the other patrols doing? Maybe he doesn't get it. Maybe the SM needs to learn some new ways to help the patrols. I don't know. Ask.

 

He's also on the swim team and PL? So burning thousands of calories a day and dealing with scouts that don't understand the basics of teamwork? Makes sense to me that he's tired.

 

Options that I can think of but ask him: Step down as PL. Get an APL that can help. Learn to delegate. Take a break from scouts until swim season is over. Get a big bag of candy, invite some friends over, and binge watch horror flicks, just to be a kid. Anything to step back from swimming? Make a calendar to know ahead of time what scouting events he will and won't do, so he can ease some pressure. Make a calendar to help manage his school work to reduce deadline panic.

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The hard part with swim team is that it is 12 months a year....  I am going to talk with him about relinquishing his patrol leader duties, so he can just concentrate on camping with less stress.

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He will continue to have less time for scouting which he seems to be enjoying less. There will be weekend swim tournaments, SAT/ACT prep and testing, college planning and visits, schoolwork,...

 

Older son and I had a long talk about his goals and his plan to achieve those goals. At 10th grade, it was clear to both of us, that his time as a scout was coming to an end. His self-imposed burden of scouting with Dad, going to Philmont like Dad, becoming an Eagle scout like Dad, not disappointing Dad ...was lifted and he was a happier kid. We still had to work on priority and balance among school, sports, robotics,... but he achieved HIS goals. He will graduate college next spring with an engineering degree.

 

Younger son and I had a similar talk. His goals are different and so far he remains interested in scouting but he too prioritizes and balances.

 

Family first.

Edited by RememberSchiff
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Current older scout with the same problem, beside the dropping out part. I’ve been getting stressed & annoyed with their behavior sometimes (refer to my previous posts).

 

If your son a PL is having trouble, then you and him need to talk to the SPL. Where’s the APL, he should he helping?

 

And someone has said above, if he really is that busy he needs to step down.

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And sports last. Having a family who sent a cousin to the pro-football, I knew what it took. And, surprisingly, year-round competing wasn't it. If you're not first in your class re-think your priorities.

 

I learned in middle school that I could walk forever around the rolling hills of home and have a smile on my face at the end of the day.

 

I knew the type of attitude that would make a pro athlete. Son #1 came closest. But science and campfires made him happier. A job of manual labor during the summer also helped. So two seasons of soccer were recreational leagues, not cup teams. He cross-trained on other teams as well.

 

Finally, it's about the age where he needs to check in with social relationships. If he's dating, is his girlfriend supportive? A good couple quickly grows around each other. If he's got buddies, who are they? Are they encouraging him into good things? This is the part where parents have to ask tough questions. (Tougher than those petty promiscuity queries.)

 

One more question for the modern age: where do the cell phones go when you all go to bed? I'm not joking.

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Divide and conquer.   Look at your patrol structure.  If there are a lot of young scouts in a single patrol, they feed off each other and the patrol leader has increased difficulty in keeping them focused.    If you are able to keep the number of new scouts to 2 per patrol, they can stay more focused, and pay more attention to the older scouts in their patrol, which helps them from acting out.   

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Younger Scouts... How much younger?     Are they just out of Webs?    Maybe they aren't used to/ready to take up responsibility .  "Mom did it all",  that kind of expectation can stick to the Young Scout for awhile. 

They have to realize the  Fun of Big Boy Scouting comes from Doing It Myself, not just doing what Mom set up for me.   Running around and being crazy?  Yeah, I bet the PL was like that sometime in his past.  Any leader has to realize that part of his "job"  is reminding the team that the meal doesn't get cooked without the stove/fire being set and lit and the food being prepared and the water bucket being filled and the dishes being cleaned up afterward.  Sports?  Competition in being your "personal best" and being on the team (Patrol) that does the best in the Troop.    There is a pride earned in having the neatest campsite (Gate? Signs? Gear? Tents don't fall down? ), in doing the map & compass course the fastest...

Those Young Scouts will remember the Older Scout that took the time to teach them (By example?  By instruction?  By gentle reminder?)  how to stay dry in the rain, warm in the cold and cover distance in the hike....

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Has your son been to NYLT? It will help fill his toolbox to deal with all of the issues of Troop leadership.

 

And just a short story:  I had a parent speak to me about an older Scout who was being a jerk to her son, who is 3 years younger. Sh was worried about the two of them being together at Jambo, without any of the Troop's adults around. While mulling over a solution, I saw the older Scout sitting near the door at the end of a Troop meeting, waiting for his ride home. I sat down next to him and asked him what was going on with him and the younger Scout. He told me that the younger Scout was being a little disrespectful, and was always clowning around. My response to him: "You mean he is acting like you did at his age?" First his mouth fell open, then he smiled as he figured it all out. From what I heard, the two of them got along better than brothers at Jambo this summer.

 

So, maybe your son needs to think about what would have gotten his attention when he was a younger Scout and move on from there.

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My son is getting more and more panicked with having to deal with a lot of younger scouts in our troop that behavior drives him crazy.  He is talking about quitting scouts which is killing me because I see the good that it does for him.  He is currently a patrol leader, signed up for Seabase and summer camp next summer and in the lottery for Philmont.  He is so busy with school, swim team, and scouts he is frazzled.  Mom is not helping by saying you should drop scouts....  sigh :-(

 

I am the scoutmaster which makes it even worse....

 

I know I am not the first to deal with this.  What have you done when this happened to you?

This was me. My dad was Scoutmaster and I felt compelled to always be a leader. When I burned out my dad noticed it and he made me a jasm. He said I’d already done my tour of duty and deserved a break. As jasm I was able to still have a leadership role but relied upon the pls and SPL to run things. I’d step in in place of an ASM. That was the break I needed since I was no longer the person responsible for making kids behave. The plc also put in place disciplinary rules and enforced them. Using the scout sign we’d maintain order. If we had to talk to a scout they’d get one warning. A second time and they’d be sent home. The plc had the parents discuss these rules and back us in enforcing it. It took a while but eventually everyone confirmed. A few guys got sent home repeatedly or weren’t allowed on camp outs. My dad says we lost 3-4 Scouts because they wouldn’t conform to the rules. But we saved 5-10 guys who were really good Scouts who were going to leave so we figured the trade off was worth it.

 

I would say to talk to your son like my dad did to me. Ask him what he wants to do and what would make Scouts more fun for him. He may need a break. He may just need a change of view.

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Well, we talked again this morning and he really likes the actitivity in scouting.  He is psyched about Seabase and summer camp, even for Philmont if we get a spot.  He just can't handle the 1st year scouts and the disrespect.  I spoke to the ASM in charge of that patrol and he is going to chat with him and watch the patrol to see if he has any good advice(he has been in scouting 54 years).  If we can't get the issues moving in the right direction, he will step down as PL and just take some non-PLC time.  He already has plenty for his Star Rank but doesn't feel that he deserves it yet so he doesn't want to have his requirements signed off.  

 

Part of the problem is that my son is a rule follower, always has been.  He doesn't understand people that aren't.  I will note that he is only 13 and he will never be the star athlete but he enjoys swimming, band, and school.

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sounds like my son/  14 yr old Life, busy with Band/soccer/baseball.  Troop has a lot of first years and second years who might as well be first years.  we focus on what he likes.  he goes on campouts, cool day activities, jambo, phi8lmont,nylt but is sort of intermittent at meetings.  sort of taking a breather during band/soccer season  and then hopefully come back recharged/motivated in the new year when he has a little more time.  when he goes to meetings he focuses on what he likes--teaching a single or pair of newbies scout skills to help them advance.  it is about balance as well as letting him feel he is in control of his time and fate.  and we try and help him prioritize his different events so he doesn't feel like he is letting anybody down and doesnt feel the weight of the world for all the decisions.

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Sounds like you had a good talk, MM. Glad to hear he's looking forward to sea base. Something tells me your just talking to him helped a lot.

 

One other really important thing. Does he have friends in scouts? This makes a huge difference as scouts get older. It's the odd kid that ages out without friends near by. The comment about venturing and OA, if he doesn't have friends, is something to think about. I wouldn't suggest that route unless he really has no friends, as making friends at this age is getting harder and harder.

 

My son didn't understand the loud kids either. I'm just guessing, but your son, if he's anything like mine, is not the natural leader. He likely has a good heart and will be great with a group that wants to be a team. However, the average group of new scouts doesn't have a clue as to what this means and asking a 13 year old to develop that really is asking a lot. I now appreciate the comments from others around here about how the troop guides should be the oldest and best leaders. They have a tough job. They can't just be web 3 leaders, they need to develop a team mentality in a bunch of boys that have only ever had to think about themselves.

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