Jump to content
SCOUTER Forum
Tampa Turtle

TampaTurtle: Unneeded parents on hikes

Recommended Posts

At the Troop meeting last night it was interesting to observe some of the reactions from the decision seeping into the Troop. A number of the Mom's of the younger to middle scouts were saying they thought it was great that females would be more welcome in the program. (OK so far). At that point there was a leap that Mom's could now be more welcome at the campouts as visitors. Three of them said that they wanted to go on the annual AT hike with their 11 to 13 year old sons and lobbied the Committee Chair that since the boys were young and the moms were fairly new hikers could they plan an easier trip for next summer. They were very excited. (I though "uh-oh")

 

When the news of this quietly spread later in the evening five of six of the most senior boys (most have 300 miles of backpacking) pulled their names from the sign up list. I overheard one saying "the adults are watering things down and making it too easy". (The AT hike has generally been an annual rite of passage-younger guys have to do a lot of practice hikes to show they are up to it- and the last year the trip was shortened by  a day when the Troop relented and let a younger guy go who was not ready but the mom (who was also not ready) insisted she go to help him --it did not set a good precedent). A mom told her son he was being a bad sport and that the point of the AT hike should be on making more the beauty of the wilderness accessible to everyone versus some kind of endurance test. (This directly conflicted with the boys who like to plan a hike that has some challenges -- they are also brutal in their recommendations to specific Dad's needs to get in shape if they are going)

 

My son (who just aged out) did not say a thing but later at home said "I am not sure what is going on but after hearing all the mom's I do not think we hit bottom yet". (He actually supports girls in scouts BTW). He did say Mom's and Dad's seem to approach things (injuries, missed equipment, conflicts) differently. Despite my efforts to explain the OFFICIAL position on what BSA has said (I would like to encourage him to stay engaged) he is INTERPRETING the recent announcement (along with things like Merit Badge Academies) as "making Boy Scouts more like Girl Scouts". 

 

Three boys asked a dad if he would be willing to do a 'real' hiking trip outside of scouts over spring break. There was some renewed interest in Philmont. On the upside some of the more sluggish Life Scouts seem to be in over-drive to work on remaining requirements so they can "hurry and get out sooner". 

 

I knew this year would be a struggle "a rebuilding year" as the Troop seems to go up and down as there is Scout, Parent, and Scout turnover but the recent change seemed to hit us at a bad point. I sense we are going to lose many of our middle and older boys. There are a lot of reasons for that--to be honest many of the boys who are matriculating up seem to want less adventure and more classroom style scouting focused on advancement -- there is a cultural issue going on. But I fear what we are losing are those boys who would really benefit from a less 'school like' atmosphere and that 'adventurous image' of the BSA brand is an easier sell for those boys when it is an entry to the male world. It was extremely useful for my two sons who needed the outlet and achievement and channeled male crudity to get them through a rough patch, I am hoping that program will still be available for other boys.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My fancy 'like' was in return for @RememberSchiff's fancy 'like' in the WWBPD (what would Baden Powell do)  thread. :p

15 minutes ago, RememberSchiff said:

Why not just limit adult participation?  Our SM decides which adults go on hikes, campouts, not CC or Troop Committee.

I strongly encourage our SM to decide based on commitment to training, and requisite conditioning. If you want to be a big-ticket-scouter:

  1. Complete training for a direct-contact position.
    1. That includes safety training (weather hazards, wilderness first aid, etc ...).
  2. Participate in conditioning hikes.
  3. Accept feedback on training required to hone your skills.
  4. Do nothing to hijack a big-ticket activity. That especially means: don't rattle the boys.
  5. Ask, don't demand, respectfully (in writing, if necessary) from the SPL/PLC/President.
Edited by qwazse
  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's while I'll pitch in with individual perspective.

 

1) You have older boys who want to go on a big AT hike.  Cool!

2)  You have parents of younger boys who want to go on an easier AT hike.  Cool!

 

This doesn't sound too difficult.  The older scouts can plan their big hike and with the Scoutmaster, decide their expectations for the trip.  If the end up saying something like, we're doing XXX miles and this hike is designed for very experienced hikers, then that would be a great way to position the event.

 

For the parents of younger scouts who want to do an easier AT hike at a later time,  I think that's a great idea.  If the younger scouts want to go on an "intro to hiking" hike and agree with the general idea, great!  Perhaps there are some opportunities for the older scouts to mentor the younger scouts and the whole troop can be excited about their respective trips.  Maybe some of the older scouts will want to serve as leaders on the younger scouts trip.

 

So what's the big problem?  If the Scoutmaster needs to set boundaries and say -- this advanced hike is not appropriate for Tenderfoot Joe and his parents, or Second Class Bob and his parents, then that's totally acceptable and reasonable, isn't it?  

 

Here's the thing.  A Scout is part of a family and the Troop should try to maintain a positive relationship with parents.  Having parents along should be generally OK and if they need coaching to let the boys be responsible, then that's a process that needs to be worked through.  It takes time for people to get into the groove of how Boy Scouts works and that learning curve is part of the game. 

 

I was reading someone's comments on another site yesterday and the person seeks to be a dog walker and start a dog walking business.  She loves dogs.  But, dog walking is only half about the dogs -- it's the humans who need to be pleased.  Boy Scouting is not that different, a Troop needs to work with the boys but also maintain good relationships with the families, and that will require patience, understanding and some degree of customer service skills.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Qwaze, I agree with your points and we used to do all that. I did that, I had to work hard 6 years ago to train and earn my stripes. At some point, and well before BSA started talking about 'Family Camping' we slipped up and started letting almost any parents join in some of the activities. While I think the intent was well meaning more than one carefully planned adventure was ended early when a participant-often a parent-was not up to the challenge. It has been smelling like Webelos 3 for a while. 

 

The SM talks a good Boy Led game but what I keep seeing is that the key Boy Leaders are being heavily coached "On the right way" by their parents to be leading the Troop which seems to be (a) managements style leadership training, (b) focus on rapid advancement toward Eagle, and (c) easy camp outs. Because this what the boys are saying the SM (who is an old school experienced scouter, Eagle, OA Vigel and all that) says that is what they will do even if they fail. It seems more like a suicide pact to me with the way they are shedding some of the best scouts so fast. 

 

I have been quite persistent in expressing my concerns to the SM and CC who seem to agree with me. I am becoming an interesting but old school curiosity at the Troop.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's another idea, just make some shorter hikes that are prerequistes to the big hike for new hikers, so -- in order to sign up for the AT,  parents and Scouts at whatever age or level need to complete the following pre-AT hike events,  at whatever training mileages are appropriate for beginners.  The hiking merit badge has hike length intervals that might be perfect for the AT pre-training.  

 

I think you can work it out -- don't lose your positive attitude! 

 

ETA:  As for differences between moms and dads, of course there are differences.  It seems my husband goes along with and accepts -- "this is the way we do it" at face value, whereas I do not.  I like to ask -- "why do you do it this way?"  I like to know more about why things are the way they are.   This has led to some disagreements in my home because my husband is frustrated that I want to know more.   We work it out though, but he is appreciating that I don't want to feel like an outsider to my sons' BSA experience and I am learning to trust that the Troop runs OK and I don't need to over-worry it. 

Edited by WisconsinMomma

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wisconsin, the problem is that the Troop cannot support two different hikes logistically up to the AT each summer. (we have had two crews a hard/easy before but it has proved harder in recent years to pull it off) The newer/weaker hikers want to scab on to the more ambitious program because they just do not have the skills/confidence to do it themselves but instead of planning to work up to it lobby to water down the entire hike to the point that the hard core hikers loose interest.

 

The SM should set up boundaries but is adverse to causing bad parental karma and in a way the problem solved itself because the only ones left want an easy 'family friendly' hike. And when the older boys starting bailing out of an activity or the program it should be a warning sign, shouldn't it.

 

I am aware that one needs skills between running the program and keeping parents happy--I have been doing this 10 years but up to a couple years ago most folks understood the program was what the program was. I was the 'new parent' trainer. In the past you wanted to go on certain trips you had to earn the right to go through training, practice, and skills now the attitude has changed. Too many cub scout attitudes creeping in emphasizing fun over adventure.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When people have more enthusiasm than experience,  I can understand it's frustrating.  I am high enthusiasm, low to moderate experience with the BSA.  There's a lot to learn.  That said, enthusiasm for the program and for the outdoors is a good thing if it can be guided appropriately.  I don't doubt that the AT is difficult hiking.   My Wood Badge staffer who was with our patrol wants to hike the AT but he came home from his trip with an achilles injury, and he's a very experience hiker.   In your troop's parents shoes, I would be comfortable with an explanation that training and conditioning is essential for an AT hike and that the hike difficulty is more for the older boys, as long as it doesn't come across as a "you suck" or "you don't know jack" or "this is ridiculous, how dare you even ask"  message.  Positive attitude is everything.  If the younger boys want to build up their hiking exposure, miles and experience then local hikes would be wonderful and inviting interested parents along is agreeable, I think.  I can see the point of view and benefit of getting more people outdoors, but it doesn't have to be crashing the big trip.  
Your Scoutmaster has a lot to consider,  best wishes.  I hope it turns out well for the Scouts. 

Edited by WisconsinMomma

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, WisconsinMomma said:

Here's another idea, just make some shorter hikes that are prerequistes to the big hike for new hikers, so -- in order to sign up for the AT,  parents and Scouts at whatever age or level need to complete the following pre-AT hike events,  at whatever training mileages are appropriate for beginners.  The hiking merit badge has hike length intervals that might be perfect for the AT pre-training.  

 

I think you can work it out -- don't lose your positive attitude! 

 

We did do that, every year. I KNOW all that! Weekly training backpacking hikes (lots of stairs because it is flat here) and you had to do 2 out of 3 field hike with the equipment you were taking. This was the rules that the boys made and we had used for a while. But we had some Mom's, who had lots of day hike experience but not backpacking, work their way into the AT trip at the last minute and they were not just not ready. The Boys are not going to tell an adult they cannot go. The SM should have been willing to be the bad guy but caved to keep the peace.  On the AT the newbies could not just leave them behind so the whole crew suffered.

 

I wish that previous SM had put his foot down but he was a bit of a soft touch more concerned with his Woodbadge class to be honest.

 

Keeping up quality control is always difficult but harder when attitudes are changing. The younger boys are less interested in the outdoor program and their parents assert pressure. When the program gets watered down the older boys who are staying in because they have self selected themselves to do the outdoor program start to disengage.

 

 

...BUT to pull this thread back on track...what I think SOME of it represents is IF BSA is going to inject new things like BSA4G and 'Family Camping' THEN they need to DOUBLE DOWN on the traditional, outdoor oriented, mixed age patrol, youth led method or Scouting will lose it's way as some experienced folks leave (as I am seeing locally) and they are replaced by less experienced new folks.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
45 minutes ago, Tampa Turtle said:

...BUT to pull this thread back on track...what I think SOME of it represents is IF BSA is going to inject new things like BSA4G and 'Family Camping' THEN they need to DOUBLE DOWN on the traditional, outdoor oriented, mixed age patrol, youth led method or Scouting will lose it's way as some experienced folks leave (as I am seeing locally) and they are replaced by less experienced new folks.

 

I agree. and have seen it.  Our solution has been our SM selects who comes, another tool he uses is a Family outing is not Scout outing - no advancement, lets just go have fun. No parents chasing after PL's or ASM's to sign-off.

Another $0.02

Edited by RememberSchiff
grammar
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
52 minutes ago, Tampa Turtle said:

Wisconsin, the problem is that the Troop cannot support two different hikes logistically up to the AT each summer. (we have had two crews a hard/easy before but it has proved harder in recent years to pull it off) The newer/weaker hikers want to scab on to the more ambitious program because they just do not have the skills/confidence to do it themselves but instead of planning to work up to it lobby to water down the entire hike to the point that the hard core hikers loose interest.

 

 

I think there are 2 different issues here, a logistics issue and a culture issue.

 

For logistics, you need to figure out how to run multiple crews. LNT crew limit is 10. Philmont, the Porkies etc have a backcountry limit of 12. If the moms want an easier trip then you need a crew with one experienced scouter and them and the younger kids. Then you have the older crew that goes more hardcore. So 2 scouters for hard core group. 1 scouter and moms for beginners. Moms drive and get whatever training you desire as part of making this happen.

 

Now culture is a little harder. If it was me, no way the younger scouts hike on the AT. Yes this is entirely arbitrary and artificial. There's plenty of good hiking around Asheville, on the  Black Mountain Crest, in the National Forests, etc etc...Let the younger kids do a real challenging backpacking trip. But, respect the unique nature of the AT hike in your troop. Don't have easy AT hikes for now. Make a big deal of it at COHs. Give AT patches or AMC has a AT bandana or some signifier the PLC comes up with. The younger kids/moms get to backpack but the special nature of the AT hike isn't violated for the older scouts.

 

If logistics has been an issue, then I can't see turning away eager volunteers. Its a tricky matter of doing that in a way that is respectful of your troop traditions.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, WisconsinMomma said:

 

2)  You have parents of younger boys who want to go on an easier AT hike.  Cool!

 

It has been several years since I was SM but our troop's policy was that for Scouts to go on a  "troop high adventure," they had to be 14 years old and First Class. Mom or dad wants to go too? I told them to fill out an ASM or committee member app, get trained, take OLS, and then they could sign up.

 

That was for whatever was deemed "troop high adventure" by the PLC. Routine weekend campouts or challenging day hikes were different.

Edited by an_old_DC
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have always felt that parent relations is the most challenging skill for SMs. The better SMs are usually great salesmen who deflected parent over involvement with a “trust me and watch” sales pitch. 

 

If push comes to shove (scouts choosing to skip activities), the SM will have to draw a line in the sand. If the SM isn’t a good salesman, a trusted well experienced assistant can also be a good interpreter between the SM and parents. 

 

Barry

  • Like 2
  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, WisconsinMomma said:

Here's the thing.  A Scout is part of a family and the Troop should try to maintain a positive relationship with parents.  Having parents along should be generally OK and if they need coaching to let the boys be responsible, then that's a process that needs to be worked through.  It takes time for people to get into the groove of how Boy Scouts works and that learning curve is part of the game. 

 

Here's the thing: It's called BOY Scouts...at least for now. Not Parent Scouts or Family Scouts or Adult Scouts. The whole program is designed for a whole bunch of boys to be monitored and counseled by trained adults...and even then not a whole ton of adults. There is ZERO need for mom (or dad) to be around to help their little yum yum. Their Patrol Leader and patrol mates will help them if there's a problem. The TRAINED adults leaders -- who should know how the program works, as well as the policies and procedures -- will be around to help if there's the need. Other than that, Boy Scouts don't need mom, dad or sister around at all.

 

Digressing from this program is what many here are worried about. Moms don't need to be along for the hike on the AT just because Johnny is 12. If they are TRAINED ASMs, fine! Otherwise, stay at home and pick him up at the church when he's done. Anything else is helicopter parenting.

Edited by Col. Flagg
  • Like 1
  • Upvote 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In 2016, my troop did have two separate backpacking trips. One was the AT, and the requirements were First Class or higher, and do two of the three prep trips. The only exception was an ASM who didn't do any of the prep trips, and had not backpacked in over 18 years.  He was the one with major issues, to the point that he collapsed on the trail. Now the standard is do the prep trips OR completed a previous AT trip. I know I got my work cut out for me if I can schedule the vacation.

 

The second trip was the weekend of the AT. Anyone could go, and it was much, much shorter. Out of 18 Scouts who were not on the AT, only 4 decided to do the second, shorter trip. The Scouts did not want to bother with the non-AT trip because it was not the AT. Funny thing is, all 4 of those Scouts did the AT this year, and the other adult I backpacked with. We had 2 crews on the AT, and it strained resources. part of it is the WFA requirement. Currently we only have 3 folks with it, and only 2 could go that week.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×