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DarleneBBB

Questions about "Boy Led" Troop

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11 minutes ago, qwazse said:

Not sure how getting lost is a safety issue.

Yes - getting lost is definitely a safety issue. Unfortunately many Scouts have died over the years as a result of getting lost in such situations.

Years ago, I was on a Scout backpacking trip where part of our group got separated and lost because we were too spread out on the trail. It took multiple days and the help of professional search and rescue experts to reunite everyone. Helicopters and Park Rangers on horseback were enlisted. The story was featured in newspapers and on evening new broadcasts. Believe me - that is not good publicity for Boys Scouts. We were relieved that no lives were lost. Many lessons were learned by all involved (both boys and adults).

Edited by gblotter

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I would agree with qwazse, in theory anyway because of course I don't know the individuals or specifics of the situation....

but in gblotter's situation.... it is so very natural and easy for an adult to make such an "order"....when it might have been "better" to find a way to either

a) in a subtle way lead the SPL to come to the idea himself that he needs to rejoin without him really even knowing that you steered him directly...

or

b) maybe an adult could have held back without saying a word to ensure safety of the younger slower group and let the sprinters carry on.... could even develop into a teaching moment...have one of the slower guys simulate a leg injury on the trail, carry him out, etc... then later in a thorns and roses guide the scouts to discuss other ways that they hike may have been accomplished in better ways... 

 

The key I'm suggesting is to steer without telling, so that the scouts fail and then DISCOVER their own solution without an adult TELLING them....  much better if an adult never really tells them they failed, and better if they can work out their own solution....

I'm reminded of a podcast...

http://scoutmastercg.com/podcast-316-scouting-is-discovery/

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13 minutes ago, qwazse said:

They caught on that day that boy leadership included making good on the promise of scouting -- for everyone.

Hmm. Do we have the same scouts?

We just got a new SPL and he's much more enthusiastic then the last one. Every decision the last one made was to do less. The new one is nice to watch. I pulled him aside last night and told him I really appreciated his attitude, both the "let's do this" and having fun at the same time. And to think he was one of the biggest pains when he was younger.

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22 minutes ago, blw2 said:

I would agree with qwazse, in theory anyway because of course I don't know the individuals or specifics of the situation....

We will have to agree to disagree. When it comes to safety, I draw the line in armchair philosophizing about boy leadership. Informing a parent that their son is dead because I didn't want to interfere with boy leadership ... no, I'm not willing to go there.

From personal experience, I tell you that these situations can spiral out of control very quickly. Disasters can be averted by modest adjustments (like requesting the SPL to regroup). This is not helicopter parenting - this is the difference between life and death. Sorry for jumping to the nuclear option with examples of dead Scouts, but I have personally lived the terror of a Scout who was lost for multiple days. Fortunately nobody died in our backpacking mishap, but the outcome easily could have tipped against us.

I'm just glad our backpacking situation did not end up like Garrett Bardsley.

http://archive.sltrib.com/article.php?id=2921219&itype=NGPSID

"Garrett disappeared Aug. 20, 2004, on a trip with his father and some Boy Scouts. The group was near Cuberant Lake. Garrett's shoes became wet and his father sent him back to camp, but the boy never made it there.

A search began within 40 minutes after he was last seen. Summit County Search and Rescue joined, and after a few days the mission changed from a rescue operation to a recovery. The search was discontinued Aug. 29 without finding a sign of Garrett.

The Bardsley family continued searching until winter weather forced them to stop. They kept Garrett's name circulating through the public by founding an organization in his name and starting the Web site http://www.findgarrett.org. They prepared months for the second search.

In the second search, the mission was to find remains or some other sign of Garrett the family could use to bring closure.

"I think everyone was out here hoping they'd be the ones to find something," said Virginia Roundy, a 54-year-old volunteer from Orem, shortly after her search team returned.

Bardsley family members have said the search that concluded Saturday would be the last, large-scale effort to find Garrett's remains, though Kevin Bardsley has left open the possibility he might return here to look."

Edited by gblotter

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truly horrible, that.

yes of course....local and specific situations to consider immediately there on the spot, and the ability of hind site and reflection here....

but there are I'd guess almost always ways to accomplish safety and discovery at the same time.  I'll admit myself to not being the best at doing that subtle steering myself, usually having the reflex to be more matter of fact about things in the heat of the moment...  This is the area where I think BSA would be best served by stepping up their training to help all of us scouters improve in this area....

Where was Garret's buddy?  They were using buddy system, right?

 

I'll be interested in reading your thoughts about that podcast, with this discussion in mind....

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19 minutes ago, blw2 said:

I'll be interested in reading your thoughts about that podcast, with this discussion in mind....

I will take the time to listen to the podcast after work. I'm sure it must be interesting material.

 

19 minutes ago, blw2 said:

I'll admit myself to not being the best at doing that subtle steering myself, usually having the reflex to be more matter of fact about things in the heat of the moment... 

Yep - I get what you are saying about subtle steering. Often that is the most effective method, and most times I am not very good at it. I picture myself more like a benevolent drill sergeant.

With our group of sprinters, I realized we needed to regroup when converging on the intersection of five trails. I had no idea which of the five trails the lead group had taken. A flashback to backpacking terror made it an easy decision to request a regroup. As it turned out, they did take the right trail in the first place. Their decision to sprint was not premeditated or preapproved. With excess energy, they just took off without a word and without even a map. Under other circumstances, perhaps I would have been more open to their discovery.

Edited by gblotter

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I'm not sure what gblotter is agreeing or disagreeing to. Why would the adults be more trained for safety than the scouts? Why would one scout be more likely to get lost than one adult? I have personally been lost on three of our treks (twice at Philmont, and once in Boundary Waters), but the whole group was lost, not just me. And the group figured out how to get back to the trail. Is a trained scout less likely to get the group back on the trail? 

When I work with unit adults in training who are reluctant to give scouts independence because they fear the worst, I guide them to train the scouts to be prepared for that fear. All adults have some kind of fear. For me it was lightning and severe burns. So to ease the stress of my fears, we worked a lot on lightning and fire safety, as well as first-aid for those situations. There was no reason for me to restrict our scouts program if they are prepared for those situations. 

Scouting does a good job preparing all it's members (both scouts and adults) for the common emergencies out in the woods. While I admit the responsibility of safety for all the scouts weighs more heavily on the Scoutmaster, a SM should never feel they have better judgement for the scouts' safety. If they do, then training should be in order. 

Barry

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20 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

While I admit the responsibility of safety for all the scouts weighs more heavily on the Scoutmaster, a SM should never feel they have better judgement for the scouts' safety. If they do, then training should be in order.

Agree to disagree.

Yes, I do believe a 58 year-old Scoutmaster has better judgement about safety than a 13 year-old SPL. Although training is a good idea for everyone (boys and adults), it has more to do with maturity and life experience. The main difference might be that an adult recognizes when he is getting into a trouble situation, whereas a boy does not until things have gone terribly bad. Not every adult, of course - there are some adults who do not have these life experiences to learn from in the first place.

 

20 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

When I work with unit adults in training who are reluctant to give scouts independence because they fear the worst

There is a difference between caution based on fear, and caution based on the wisdom of experience. Those who do not learn from their mistakes ...

Edited by gblotter

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17 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

There was no reason for me to restrict our scouts program if they are prepared for those situations.

Preparation is a valid point. As I mentioned before, the decision of my sprinters was not premeditated or preapproved. With excess energy, they just took off without a word and without even a map. That is not a situation that defines preparedness, so I requested them to regroup.

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1 hour ago, gblotter said:

I will take the time to listen to the podcast after work. I'm sure it must be interesting material.

 

Yep - I get what you are saying about subtle steering. Often that is the most effective method, and most times I am not very good at it. I picture myself more like a benevolent drill sergeant.

With our group of sprinters, I realized we needed to regroup when converging on the intersection of five trails. I had no idea which of the five trails the lead group had taken. A flashback to backpacking terror made it an easy decision to request a regroup. As it turned out, they did take the right trail in the first place. Their decision to sprint was not premeditated or preapproved. With excess energy, they just took off without a word and without even a map. Under other circumstances, perhaps I would have been more open to their discovery.

I think I had the same sprinters on the same hike! The "wait at the fork for the group to catch up" was ignored. Eventually took more than an hour before we got in contact with them (an angry bull blocked their progress) and I was a little anxious. 

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4 hours ago, gblotter said:

Agree to disagree.

Yes, I do believe a 58 year-old Scoutmaster has better judgement about safety than a 13 year-old SPL. ....

OK, maybe so....just maybe.... 

so let's say it is so, how did you gain that better judgement?

To quote Yoda in the most recent Star Wars...."The greatest teacher, failure is."  This is the beauty of Scouts and the Patrol Method if done right...it gives these boys an opportunity to gain that judgment in a relatively safe and controlled way where not many other opportunities exist at that age.... 

Going back to your hike example, I might suggest a quick reminder about buddy system and leave it at that with your leader.  Then after that and without his even knowing, fall back yourself to the slower group that you were concerned about.  You can then ensure their safety and even contrive all sorts of things that would have really driven the potential concern of being separated home to ALL of the scouts.  Do the fake leg injury thing I mentioned before.... or just have the trailing group sit down and take a break.  the lead group would then either start to worry, eventually return on their own, or not.  either way  all is safe and lesson could be learned.

Instead, we have a scout that might be one step closer to the exit.

Again, I'm not trying to be critical here....Your action was very likely the very best option at the time....I'm just through the benefit of hind site do a little brainstorm thought exercise here that might help future different situations, just extending your story as the example.   and I'll admit I don't know the particulars of the situation...I wasn't there.  I'm convinced though that your scout's reaction to your order points to exactly the kind of thing that is the basis for my son's quitting scouts. (not that he was bossed or adult led exactly, but that fun was squashed in his eyes.  There was little if any discovery happening)

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1 hour ago, blw2 said:

let's say it is so, how did you gain that better judgement?

Gained through a lifetime of experience, accentuated by a terrifying backpacking incident that taught me to not be casual in my approach to safety.

 

1 hour ago, blw2 said:

"The greatest teacher, failure is."

Sure, and death teaches some hard lessons too. I draw a clear line when safety is involved. No apologies from me for that.

 

1 hour ago, blw2 said:

You can then ensure their safety and even contrive all sorts of things that would have really driven the potential concern of being separated home to ALL of the scouts.  Do the fake leg injury thing I mentioned before.... or just have the trailing group sit down and take a break.  the lead group would then either start to worry, eventually return on their own, or not.  either way  all is safe and lesson could be learned.

3

We did sit down and wait for the sprinters to rejoin our group. But that was not contrived - it was just the common sense thing to do. I do believe in teaching moments, but a fake leg injury was not needed in this situation. I have a real-life experience to teach that lesson even more effectively. All of our Scouts know the lost backpacker story - it is legend in our troop. When I tell that story around a campfire, they listen with rapt attention. From that story, they are well-aware of the potential hazards of getting separated and lost. And they know I take these situations seriously. Yet with 13 year-olds, we somehow end up reteaching the same lesson periodically. I'm not sure what Yoda would have to say about that.

 

1 hour ago, blw2 said:

Instead, we have a scout that might be one step closer to the exit.

Nah - that is being overly dramatic.

 

1 hour ago, blw2 said:

I'm convinced though that your scout's reaction to your order points to exactly the kind of thing that is the basis for my son's quitting scouts.

I can't speak for your son, obviously. With my SPL, he was simply reacting in a defensive way after leading other Scouts into a potentially unsafe situation. His error became visible to the other boys when I requested they hike back to rejoin the group. That created embarrassment for him and he was throwing up a screen with the boy leadership comment. This SPL is our most gung-ho Scout. I heap more public praise on him than you can imagine. Believe me - he is not heading to the exit.

 

1 hour ago, blw2 said:

There was little if any discovery happening

The discovery happened shortly after. When the sprinter group rushed ahead, they discovered some cool caves that they were excited to share. We spent an extra hour there climbing and exploring every facet without any overlording from me. Discoveries were made, fun was had, lessons were learned, and nobody died. All is well.

 

Caves.JPG

Edited by gblotter

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, blw2 said:

I'll be interested in reading your thoughts about that podcast, with this discussion in mind...

Interesting Podcast. That is my first introduction to ScoumasterCG. There is definitely some good content, but nobody will accuse Clarke Green of being too succinct. I suppose his nugget from that 28 minutes is that Scouting should be a discovery that the boys make on their own, avoiding the interference of adults as much as possible. Got it.

I don't know anything about Clarke Green. He seems very experienced and has obviously invested a lot in Scouting (his ScoutmasterCG website being only part of it). Many of us are very experienced and we can all learn from each other - I'm fine with that. However, I do tire of the attitude that true Scouting is only experienced by the few who have that secret decoder ring to unlock Bill Hillcourt's secrets of boy leadership. We all stand on the shoulders of giants, but Scouting is not that hard. We sometimes make it harder than it needs to be by endlessly reminding others that in spite of best efforts - nope, you're still not doing it right. Dare I say there is some virtue signaling in all this?

 

Edited by gblotter
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I did not intend for this to be a comparison of my method of "long-leashing" vs. @gblotter's. I've called back plenty of teens who dashed off in a fey mood.

Sure, safety could be part of the picture. More so if boys lack training and preparation. But, it's not the whole picture. More importantly, it's not the end of the story when at stake is an opportunity for leadership development.

A boy leader shouldn't take advantage of adult association for spur-of-the-moment babysitting of slower scouts. In that context, it doesn't matter how well trained the SPL is or what sense of direction he has. Developing leadership includes maintaining responsibility over your boys -- all of them.

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6 hours ago, gblotter said:

However, I do tire of the attitude that true Scouting is only experienced by the few who have that secret decoder ring to unlock Bill Hillcourt's secrets of boy leadership. We all stand on the shoulders of giants, but Scouting is not that hard. We sometimes make it harder than it needs to be by endlessly reminding others that in spite of best efforts - nope, you're still not doing it right. Dare I say there is some virtue signaling in all this?

 

The problem isn't that Scouting is hard.  The problem is that we all seem to have different definitions of what it is.  

I see that inherent problem in the discussions on this page.  Benevolent drill seargant Boy Scouts is different from "long leashing" Boy Scouts.  They are both ways to run a youth program - sure would be nice though if our troop leaders were a bit more consistent.

I saw it in Darlene's initial post too.  There it really saddens me because new parents have no idea how little boy led there usually is in your typical troop.

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