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Told to Troop Guide: Dad makes me come here.

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At least in my neck of the woods, I have experienced how these things work.  Like I said, the Council deemed one of my previous troops as exemplary in it's program.  They rotated between BWCA, Sea Base and Philmont on a three year cycle.  They turned out 4-5 Eagles every year.  They recruited 20+ boys every year into the program.  They had at least 15 ASM's.  They selected the mixed-aged patrols and assigned the SPL and PL's on the basis of needing POR's.  The lost an average of 20+ boys every year keeping the number of boys in the troop around 40.  The annual calendar was exactly the same every year.  Basically they were an adult driven Eagle mill.  Eventually the SM was removed from that position.

As a UC for the past 10 years I have had the opportunity to visit units throughout the council.  The vast majority of the units follow this process and thus the need for frequent UC visits.  Problems abound.  The complaints from unit leadership does not vary from one unit to the other and are very much reflective of the issues identified on this forum.  I do not comment on threads that indicate smooth running operations, but do interject comments that have been helpful to the troops in my area when dealing with problems they face.  I can only assume that maybe those same comments might help others in other parts of the country.  If they are not helpful, feel free to ignore them.  Some of the units around here do just that.

Yet when the District UC wants to be my ASM to learn what I'm doing differently and why I don't seem to need much help, it just may be indicative that I have something to offer as an alternative within the program of the BSA.  I don't toot my horn unless asked to by a unit.  But the unit I went to after leaving the adult led program of my first troop, I was not asked by the parents to be the SM, nor was I asked by the CC/Committee to be the SM, I got a call from the PL of the one patrol of the struggling troop to come and be the SM.  Now, the boys of my current troop are young, they struggle, they have opportunity to try whatever they want for a program, they fail, they have no idea what an adult led program is.  And yet they keep coming back, week after week and get better inch by inch.

Their first experience of struggle came after the new boys came into the new troop as Webelos crossovers.  Yes, I have had WDL experience so I knew what they didn't know faced them.  5 months after crossing over they went to summer camp.  It was a no-mess hall camp.  Monday of that week, they were expected to make grilled cheese for lunch.  They were trained in fire-building, but of course they didn't pay attention and couldn't get the wood stove working.  My DUC/ASM was beside herself and wanted to go help them.  I said no, she couldn't do that.  I looked her directly in the eyes and said, cheese sandwiches are just as nourishing as grilled cheese sandwiches. She backed off in a huff, but by Friday, the boys were getting good as Dutch oven cooking and having a ball.

I make opportunities for the boys and observe and learn from them what they want and need out of scouting.  I merely pass those lessons I learned off to this forum.  I must admit, however, keeping one's mouth shut and watching the boys struggle through the life lessons of scouting is difficult at times.  As a SM, I find myself doing a balancing act between being a safety net and a cheerleader.  But for good or bad, it's always the boys' program, not mine.  They figure it out eventually and they are very proud of all their "wins".  Me?  I'm just proud of my boys.

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I would start by asking the Scout in question who he is friendly with in his patrol.  If the answer is no one, I would ask if anyone in another patrol is someone he is friendly with.  If such a person exists, I would ask the PL of the patrol with the friend, if his patrol would accept another member, explain why I think that would be important, and ask him to make smooth the way for the transfer.

Boys don't join to be educated, learn to be responsible, or develop better values.  That was B-P's insight and Bill's.  It is my observation in nearly fifty years of unit-level Scouting.  I joined, for example, because my neighbor was someone I buddied with and he asked me to join his patrol.

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Edited by TAHAWK
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To this day I do not remember the name of my patrol, but I do remember the names of everyone in it.

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Thanks everyone. I am working off of second-hand info from the TG, so I don't know the tone or context in which the boy said what he said. But since it's something the TG brought up at the PLC, I figure it's more serious than  trying to get a rise out of his peers and not as serious as imminent quitting.

I'll pick a couple two-scentence solutions and relay them along.

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I'll just share an experience from my 9 year old,  new to hockey son yesterday at his first tournament.   They played the first game,  he hung around in the skating center with his friends, they played in the arcade.  He comes up to me all pouty and says, I want to go home, I don't want to play another game.   He asks to buy a sucker from the sucker pull fundraiser, and then... he's happy again.  

He's doing something hard, a hockey tournament, with lots of boring downtime.  This  morning we are up early to go for the third game.  It's hard, it's a lot of work.  Some parts are very fun and some parts are a slog and he's free to express himself when he's feeling down about it. 

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Youth at that age are fickle with what interests them.  Like the weather in Wisconsin, if you don't like it at the present time, wait 5 minutes, it'll be different.

 

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