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Pack Life vs Troop Life, a Scout's perspective....

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While reading a current thread about Girls in the pack and how one particular mom prefers the Cub program over the GS program....

I had a thought about my son's experiences. Thought it might trigger an interesting discussion.... or maybe not.

Is Pack life harming troop life?  Are we not preparing these young scouts properly for what 'could be' in the troop?

backing up with a bit of history of my perspective.  My son was active in cubs, maybe typical in that he was excited at first to put on the uniform and the rest.  Over time this grew to being disinterested in going to pack meetings, what I took to be neutral on going to den meetings, and he usually enjoyed the camp outs and trips although the pretrip excitement tempered over time.  He went on most camp outs and trips and had fun overall.   He NEVER really cared anything at all about the advancement or he swag.  Moving to the troop, he went quickly in about 1-1/2 years from "gung-ho super excited do everything" to "I quit".  he never advanced past tenderfoot.

Since he's quit, he has mentioned off the cuff to me a few times that he wished scouts was more like cub scouts.

I think he enjoyed showing up for some pre-planned fun.

he did not enjoy the work of doing KP and other routine stuff like that.  He did not enjoy being re-taught stuff he already knew.  I sorta feel like he experienced all the down sides of responsibility with very few of the up sides to it in his troop.  (for example learning the same first aid stuff as a Wolf, then again as a bear, then again as a WEBELOS, then again at CubORee, then again at WEBELOS akela weekend, then again at an early troop meet, then again at summer camp, then again at University of Scouting, and so on.... AND EVERY one of these turns being somebody reading it to them with very little practical or hands on discovery)

I look at what 'could be' in a troop....scouts coming up with all sorts of fun things to do, discovering, adventure, freedom, and independence.  All that stuff that could lead to the stuff us adults want out of it in a hidden way, without the scouts even knowing that it is happening (character development, leadership training, and all of that...)

I'm sensing that adults were too cub conditioned to put on a troop program as it 'could have been'

and

maybe that my son had some misconceptions about what scouting could be.

Maybe at the pack level less "adults doing everything" and more of that independence, discovery, freedom, and adventure at the pack level would train everyone for a better troop experience

or maybe it would lead to even more boredom?

What are some of the things you can think of that packs are doing

  • to ill-prepare scouts for troop life?
  • to ill-prepare scouters for troop life?
  • to give scouts wrong expectations?

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I don't think the pack program is the problem for the boys. It might be a problem for not preparing the adults for the troop, but not the boys.

I was one of three adults who started our troop program. We each had a great scouting experience in our youth in very boy run programs. So we had very boy run expectations when we were visiting troops to cross into. But we found ourselves disappointed in  the troops we visited.

Eventually we decided to start our own troop. When the DE heard that, he pointed us to a dying troop of 7 scouts between the ages of 12 to 16. The SM was burned out, so the program suffered. I remember one of our first campouts was a back packing campout. Not a long hike, only a few miles because 11 of the scouts were Webelos just a few months before. But, one of the older scouts from the previous program said they had never done anything like that before. And I think that is the basic problem with the troop programs today. To much first class advancement and not enough adventure. 

Believe it or not, most boys don't like KP. Most don't really like cooking all that much, either. Planning isn't that much fun and shopping for groceries is boring. But, when sharing those responsibilities with your patrol mates for the purpose of doing the really fun adventure stuff, they aren't barriers of druggery that make a 12 year old think twice about going camping. Those little things are just stepping stone responsibilities for the really fun stuff. 

I have often said on this forum that the success of a troop program is measured best by the older scouts. If the older scouts are coming and having fun, the younger scouts' program is having fun as well. I find that the majority of troops spend way too much time running the younger scouts through the gauntlet of learning First Class skills instead of doing adventure stuff where first class skills are just part of the fun. And those troops generally start loosing their scouts around age 14.

The attitude, sadly, is the fun adventure is for the older scouts. Those are also the scouts who are supposed to be leading and role modeling for the younger scouts. Adding to the problem of boring the younger scouts to death with low adventure and high advancement is boring the older scouts because they are pushed   to teach the first class program to the younger scouts. Well of course, it's a boy run program, so the older scouts are supposed to be the teachers, right! But the problem is teaching the younger scouts is just repeating their first three years of the troop program. And who wants that! Generally it falls on the older scouts whose dads are the adult leaders. The rest of the older scouts left. 

The troop program needs to be as much adventure for the 11 year old as it is for the 15 year old. Older scouts like role modeling. They like showing their skills. They just don't like repeating the same ol same ol classes of sitting on a log learning knots. Adventure is running into the woods to gain the experience of surviving in an environment that most of their friends have never seen. Fishing, hiking, riding bikes, canoeing, swimming, and rappelling is the fun stuff. Older scouts showing the younger scouts how to do the fishing, hiking, riding bikes, canoeing, swimming, and rappelling is even funner stuff for their age and maturity. Adults sitting by the fire back at camp while the scouts are fishing, hiking, riding bikes, canoeing, swimming, and rappelling makes it even more fun for everyone. 

There are lots of ways to adventure and we can discuss that, but this is my answer to the problem you present to us. To many adults are leaving the out door adventure fun out of the program and as a result, the troop is closer to a Webelos III program than an out door adventure program.

Barry

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It’s definitely not the program, it’s  the adults/parents that provide it and how they interpret how it should be ran.

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2 hours ago, blw2 said:

Since he's quit, he has mentioned off the cuff to me a few times that he wished scouts was more like cub scouts.

I think he enjoyed showing up for some pre-planned fun.

A lot of scouts (and former scouts) feel this way. 

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, blw2 said:

Maybe at the pack level less "adults doing everything" and more of that independence, discovery, freedom, and adventure at the pack level would train everyone for a better troop experience

Have I got this right? Your son tells you that he wishes boy scouts was more like cub scouts, so you concluded that cub scouts should be more like boy scouts.

My nephew felt the same way as your son. He loved cub scouts. He crossed over to boy scouts, but dropped out of scouting during his first year. He wished boy scouts was more like cub scouts. 

I don't think it would have "prepared" him better if cub scouts had been more like boy scouts. He would have dropped out sooner, as a webelos, instead of dropping out later, as a boy scout. The problem wasn't with preparation. He just doesn't like scouting.

 

Edited by David CO

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2 hours ago, Eagledad said:

Believe it or not, most boys don't like KP. Most don't really like cooking all that much, either. Planning isn't that much fun and shopping for groceries is boring. But, when sharing those responsibilities with your patrol mates for the purpose of doing the really fun adventure stuff, they aren't barriers of druggery that make a 12 year old think twice about going camping. Those little things are just stepping stone responsibilities for the really fun stuff......

funny, with this one paragraph you summed up a huge bulk of my son's troop experience!  he never wanted to go to the troop meetings because they were usually "planning" for the next low adventure outing....which pretty much solely involved coming up with a menu and deciding who had grub master duties this time.

It's teh fun stuff that was missing....you got that right!

2 hours ago, Eagledad said:

 

I have often said on this forum that the success of a troop program is measured best by the older scouts. If the older scouts are coming and having fun, the younger scouts' program is having fun as well. I find that the majority of troops spend way too much time running the younger scouts through the gauntlet of learning First Class skills instead of doing adventure stuff where first class skills are just part of the fun. And those troops generally start loosing their scouts around age 14.

The attitude, sadly, is the fun adventure is for the older scouts. Those are also the scouts who are supposed to be leading and role modeling for the younger scouts. Adding to the problem of boring the younger scouts to death with low adventure and high advancement is boring the older scouts because they are pushed   to teach the first class program to the younger scouts. Well of course, it's a boy run program, so the older scouts are supposed to be the teachers, right! But the problem is teaching the younger scouts is just repeating their first three years of the troop program. And who wants that! Generally it falls on the older scouts whose dads are the adult leaders. The rest of the older scouts left. 

The troop program needs to be as much adventure for the 11 year old as it is for the 15 year old. ....

& I think this sums up what I saw too. There was a push for more adventure for the older guys, but at the expense of leaving the younger guys out.  I never understood that.  The adventures being planned were well within the capabilities of the young guys too.... backpacking a couple miles into a camp site, as an example....

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2 minutes ago, blw2 said:

& I think this sums up what I saw too. There was a push for more adventure for the older guys, but at the expense of leaving the younger guys out.  I never understood that.  The adventures being planned were well within the capabilities of the young guys too.... backpacking a couple miles into a camp site, as an example....

This attitude really bothers me and I worked hard in our district to change it. I'm guessing, but I think National created the perception by adding Venture Patrols to the program in 1990. They suggested troops put all their older scouts I Venture patrols at age 14. Between the First Class in the First Year concept and the Venture Patrols, what are adults new to scouting supposed to think?

As you pointed out, there isn't really that much adventure that younger scouts can't do if it is planned wisely.

Barry

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1 hour ago, David CO said:

Have I got this right? Your son tells you that he wishes boy scouts was more like cub scouts, so you concluded that cub scouts should be more like boy scouts.

My nephew felt the same way as your son. He loved cub scouts. He crossed over to boy scouts, but dropped out of scouting during his first year. He wished boy scouts was more like cub scouts. 

I don't think it would have "prepared" him better if cub scouts had been more like boy scouts. He would have dropped out sooner, as a webelos, instead of dropping out later, as a boy scout. The problem wasn't with preparation. He just doesn't like scouting.

 

no, not right at all..... I'm not saying that cubs should be more like the troop...well not as troops are in reality anyway.

A grossly exaggerated analogy of what I'm thinking might be like feeding a boy chocolate ice cream for an appetizer then making him eat broccoli salad for dinner and over cooked Brussels sprouts for desert.

and I don't mean make cubs like brussels sprouts...of course I'm not thinking that fun should be taken away from cubs...

What I'm thinking is really more about preparing both the adults and scouts to ultimately facilitate a better troop life...better than what most are.

I'm saying that I think that the program...and in some ways just the implementation of the program at the pack could ease folks along towards a better end goal than it does.  

In theory, scouts should be capable of coming up with lots of great adventure ideas on their own...defining what they want to do and as they get older ease more an more into doing the planning and implementation.  But in my experience most scouts, even older ones, have no point of reference to what scouts could and should be in terms of adventure and discovery.... Ask these guys what they want to do, and for the most part they'll just come up with a list of the stuff they've done the last couple years in the troop..... plop camping with the troop trailer in one of several locations around the area.

And conversely the scouters seem to carry over all the adult lead stuff form the pack.

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32 minutes ago, blw2 said:

What I'm thinking is really more about preparing both the adults and scouts to ultimately facilitate a better troop life...better than what most are.

If I could teach the adults to take to heart one concept of the Troop program, that would be that "Boys prepare for their future adult life best from the adversity within the adventure". 

We have a lot of adults ask on the forum about policies for canceling a camp out do to weather. The general rule for weather is that if the scouts, or adults, didn't endure the weather very well, they didn't prepare for it. Adversity teaches us how to prepare  to do better the next time. Whether that next time is leading the Patrol Corners meeting without loosing control or setting up camp in the rain, that adversity of the situation motivates scouts learn so that the experience is less stressful next time. 

I would tell the adults to spend less time on meetings, advancement, and ceremonies. Spend the bulk of the time making the next camp out more adventurous. More cooked meals, more activities in the woods, and more patrol interactions. All with less adult observation or intervention.  The troop is the real life world scaled down to a boys size. Let the boys experience real life.

The troop is also a safe place. Safety is letting scouts fail without gilt. If we allow scouts to make decisions from the experience of adversity, they shouldn't feel guilty when the decision didn't help ease the struggle of the adversity. They should instead feel comfortable and motivated to seek wisdom from their role models.

50 minutes ago, blw2 said:

In theory, scouts should be capable of coming up with lots of great adventure ideas on their own...defining what they want to do and as they get older ease more an more into doing the planning and implementation.  But in my experience most scouts, even older ones, have no point of reference to what scouts could and should be in terms of adventure and discovery.... Ask these guys what they want to do, and for the most part they'll just come up with a list of the stuff they've done the last couple years in the troop..... plop camping with the troop trailer in one of several locations around the area.

 

Yea, it's kind of funny that most new troop leaders think scouts have all these dreams and ideas of great adventure. But, I'm not sure why we think that. What experiences in their lives would give them that?

When we adults did finally realize that the boys needed help in being creative, we started letting the adults propose some ideas as well. Not over the scouts, but a choice among the choices. In fact, we would push for more scout ideas just so it didn't seem so obvious.

One of our adults was an avid back packer who had back packed all over the world. 5 year later we averaged at least two week long back packing treks a year. Another adult wanted to go to Alaska. He sold the PLC on it and took a large group of scouts. Of course the scouts have their ideas too. One scouts was a champion Skeet Shooter, so we planned a Skeet Shooting weekend. Another was a local recognize bicycle racer, so we ended up doing a lot of biking camp outs.

Troops need to learn how to use the Adult Association as a team concept instead as a us and them concept. I understand the risk because it does allow the adults to get some involvement with the scouts, but if the adults keep working the concept of adversity as the teacher, the adults will understand how to step back and let adversity do the magic growing the scouts' maturity.

However, I admit the adult side of the program is not easy. I have said here often that for the patrol method program to mature, the adults have to learn more and faster than the scouts so they stay out of the way. 

And, I think we males get set in comfort zones and we let creativity slip now and then. We have to remind ourselves that scouts need adversity to grow. Adversity requires constant change. Change is OK.

Barry

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ever read the book, "So Far So Good, A New Scoutmaster's Story"?

It's been a while, but I think the story line went something like this.... the scouts had in the back of their mind going on a rock climbing trip, but they knew the adults would never go for it...so they never would bring it up.  It took a little doing for the new scoutmaster to pull it from them..."no seriously, what do YOU GUYS want to do???"

So they pulled it together, practiced a bit of independent leadership along the way...and then once the scouts realized that they could do fun things they started researching and coming up with more ideas on their own. 

 

 

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There's a missing part here. Or maybe something not brought up enough. A game with a purpose means a fun game. That means something new. New plus fun requires imagination and that takes time. When it's rushed it turns into simple advancement. Adventure is the same way. It takes time to figure out a good idea.
 

 

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23 hours ago, blw2 said:

While reading a current thread about Girls in the pack and how one particular mom prefers the Cub program over the GS program....

I had a thought about my son's experiences. Thought it might trigger an interesting discussion.... or maybe not.

Is Pack life harming troop life?  Are we not preparing these young scouts properly for what 'could be' in the troop?

backing up with a bit of history of my perspective.  My son was active in cubs, maybe typical in that he was excited at first to put on the uniform and the rest.  Over time this grew to being disinterested in going to pack meetings, what I took to be neutral on going to den meetings, and he usually enjoyed the camp outs and trips although the pretrip excitement tempered over time.  He went on most camp outs and trips and had fun overall.   He NEVER really cared anything at all about the advancement or he swag.  Moving to the troop, he went quickly in about 1-1/2 years from "gung-ho super excited do everything" to "I quit".  he never advanced past tenderfoot.

Since he's quit, he has mentioned off the cuff to me a few times that he wished scouts was more like cub scouts.

I think he enjoyed showing up for some pre-planned fun.

he did not enjoy the work of doing KP and other routine stuff like that.  He did not enjoy being re-taught stuff he already knew.  I sorta feel like he experienced all the down sides of responsibility with very few of the up sides to it in his troop.  (for example learning the same first aid stuff as a Wolf, then again as a bear, then again as a WEBELOS, then again at CubORee, then again at WEBELOS akela weekend, then again at an early troop meet, then again at summer camp, then again at University of Scouting, and so on.... AND EVERY one of these turns being somebody reading it to them with very little practical or hands on discovery)

I look at what 'could be' in a troop....scouts coming up with all sorts of fun things to do, discovering, adventure, freedom, and independence.  All that stuff that could lead to the stuff us adults want out of it in a hidden way, without the scouts even knowing that it is happening (character development, leadership training, and all of that...)

I'm sensing that adults were too cub conditioned to put on a troop program as it 'could have been'

and

maybe that my son had some misconceptions about what scouting could be.

Maybe at the pack level less "adults doing everything" and more of that independence, discovery, freedom, and adventure at the pack level would train everyone for a better troop experience

or maybe it would lead to even more boredom?

What are some of the things you can think of that packs are doing

  • to ill-prepare scouts for troop life?
  • to ill-prepare scouters for troop life?
  • to give scouts wrong expectations?

I do think that a lot of what we do in Cub Scouts makes it so the boys don't like Boy Scouts as much.  I think coddling the Cub Scouts and them having no responsibilities during a campout is a negative thing, and is not good for them in the long run.  My youngest began scouting as a tiger, and my oldest as a wolf.  From the first campout, they helped me (and sometimes their mom) set up our family campsite, even while their friends were off playing (and the friends' parents were doing all the work).  Yes, when they were small it would have been easier to set up the camp by myself, but if I wanted things easy, I wouldn't be camping with them.  

I do agree there's a problem with repetition and too much "school type" learning rather than hands on learning.  

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Thinking back,  I now know part of what I became came from my dad and mom each insisting and giving me "manly"  responsibilities as I grew up. I helped dad work on the car, fix things around the house, helped him in his business. He cooked sunday morning breakfast, so I learned to fry eggs and pancakes.   When I went off to Boy Scouts from Cubs, I had a Troop where the older Scouts "apprenticed" the younger.  As we got stronger, we went on the longer trips.  

Our Troop was fortunate to have "The Property", which was owned by somebody's brother's cousin or something.  It was an easy  15 mile or so  drive to the parking area, then a mile maybe walk into our campsite.  It had a spring for water and a creek to put milk in for cooling. The fire wood came from a "dead" area of downed American Chestnut (!) that had died 30 plus years ago in the blight, but fallen and stacked up, it made for good axe and hatchet practice. Burned with a blue hot flame, I have never seen the like since.  

It is the Older Scouts, taking on the "older brother" role that makes a Troop successfully  "Boy Led".   If the senior Scouts are encouraged to go off and do nothing but Big Boy stuff, the Troop will inevitably become Adult Led, by default.   Sure, the senior Scouts need to challenge themselves with Philmont and weeklong AT treks, but they cannot leave the "little kids" totally behind.  Where is the  encouragement to leave a legacy?   Our society advances by learning from the past.  Who teaches that past?  Are there any Troop Traditions to pass on?   

I think I'll open anew thread....  

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From  a 1st year Boy Scouts perspective, what I'm trying to educate him on is the "first" big differences between cub scouts and boy scouts is this:

* You don't just "try your best" and get patted on the back

* You don't just get a participation trophy

* You need to develop and demonstrate proficiency

* You can move as fast or as slow as you want...its all up to you.

He doesn't need to focus on those attributes of boy scouts that will demanded on him in a year or two.  Now, I thought the above would result in the world crashing down on him.  He is one of those "lazy boys" that doesn't ever want to do anything.  From  a few weeks prior to officially crossing over, I have seen him identify a plan with weekly goals to earn his scout rank.  He identified all of those ones that he wants to tackle on week 1, week 2 and week 3.   He wants to impress people, so he does not discourage any of my "quizzes" towards him reaching those self-identified mini-goals but is appreciated of my assistance.  More importantly, we have co-decided (my idea, yes, but he enthusiastically agreed to it because he wants to "blow his peeps away" at camp) to have him join the neighborhood swim team from now to summer camp, so he can confidently pass his first eagle merit badge (swimming).....by truly understanding what "be prepared" really means as the motto.  Try to anticipate whats coming up, and what can you do now to make the options/situations easier.  I'm in awe of him right now.  I have even seen a hint of this already spill over into his goal-setting for school.  I've tried to encourage swim team before and he has ALWAYS been against the idea.  But, he sees the value...how putting a little effort in now will make the future easier.

Let the disorganization and controlled chaos elevate the spirits of the boys during the troop meetings.  They are having fun with it.  The troop parts are organized with activities and education, and the patrol parts are disorganized and more playful at this stage.   Thats ok.  Leadership and organizational skills will come in time.  He is having fun, and he has a purpose.  I can't ask for anything more.

The point being, getting ready for boy scouts is multi-phased....nobody is ready for it all on day one, or month one.  You don't treat a 5th grader the same you would treat a 14-year old.  Focus on building the solid foundation, and slowly over time build those walls and roof.

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