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Scouting4Ever

Re-engaging Older Scouts

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We just finished our crossover and our troop has expanded! No complaints there. 

As I look at the troop some of my older Scouts (freshmen) have earned Eagle and I have a few (freshmen, sophomores and juniors) who are close to Eagle. They are getting bored with the meetings and such. 

My younger Scouts (5th, 6th 7th and 8th) make up 2/3 of the troop. A lot of effort is put into teaching them the skills needed Scout to First Class and we use older Scouts to teach but after awhile that gets boring for the older Scouts as well. 

Any thoughts, links, cool things you have done to re-engage your older Scouts? We have talked about older Scout camp outs and they are looking at doing a float trip. One has applied for World Jamboree and one is spending his summer as a counselor. I know they still enjoy Scouting just Monday nights are sometimes a drag. 

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I suggest this book.  Short and an easy read.....just a fictional (based on experience) possibility to get the thoughts flowing about the possibility of discovery and adventure.

and really embrace the patrol method.  Do some studying to find out what it really is...I think there's a lot of misunderstanding about this....

Obvious is "more adventure".... but I think the less obvious is "more discovery"

but I would caution against just making a cut and dry push for more adventure for the older scouts though.  My son's SM was doing this and personally I felt that it really alienated the younger guys big time.  He had some personal history that drove him o strongly discourage venturing, so he was pushing "adventure patrol".  They were planning to do stuff that was a bit better than the stuff they had done, but the younger guys were certainly capable if they wanted.... for example go backpack camping where they hike in a mile or two....(without the troop trailer, gasp!) .....but it was said, only for the older scouts.  I don't remember if it was touted as age or rank based, but it clearly wasn't justifiable.  This summer, they are going to sea base.  Sadly, my son was just slipping in under the age/school grade requirements for that too (but that was a sea base rule, not the troop's)..... if he'd have stayed in the troop, by the time they go he would have been in the troop for 3 full years & I don't believe for a minute that they'll do anything even remotely outside of his abilities.

Anyway, one thing is for sure...if the older scouts are bored, that is no good for the younger guys either.... no first year scout wants some bored to tears older kid reading to them out of the book....

 

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Older scouts need fellowship. That means games, laughter, service, and food. Instead of time instructing scouts -- only have of whom will stay on task during a meeting -- give them half hour opportunities:

  • A venturing patrol for the next big activity. (Training might be them hiking 14 miles to the younger scouts' 3 in the same day. I.e., avoid the pitfalls that @blw2 described of wrecking fellowship.)
  • An Eagle scouts advising Life scouts huddle.
  • Set up games for younger scouts.
  • Special service projects for your CO.
  • Skits and Song (Yes older boys can sing if they try) improv.
  • Cook up a treat in the kitchen that they may share with younger scouts who can demonstrate a skill.
  • Or, a cracker barrel for your PLC.
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I am a youth, sophomore, and one merit badge away from Eagle.

Give them a leadership role, make them feel welcomed. We put senior scouts as guide, or usually they are elected for SPL. Senior scouts will feel needed if you give them a topic to teach. Knots instructor, first aid, etc

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I'm not a big fan of First Class skills instruction. Sometimes it's required, but less is more. Instead inspire your older scouts to think of some fun activities to motivate learning the skills. One year the PLC came up with an interesting skills lesson. It started with the SPL deciding to hike the troop about one mile into our campsite. Along the way the troop ran into a car accident. As the SPL encourage the troop to move in to the accident scene, it was interesting to see how many hesitated. It's hard to rush into the unknown. But when they got close enough, the scouts could see the accident was set up by the older scouts to teach first-aid. They had done research on the internet to make fake blood and wounds. The experience went better than I had hoped and every scout, old and young had fun and learned A LOT.

Funny story, two months later our troop is driving to summer camp. As we came over a hill, we find our caravan is the first on to a roll over accident. The road was went and the driver lost control. We had several doctors in the group, so they went to work with the driver and passenger while we kept the rest of the troop back. What we didn't tell he scouts was that we were concerned another car would come over the hill and loose control right into the group. So we back up a bit. But, a scout approached me and asked why we went through the trouble of teaching them first-aid two months back at the simulated accident scene, and then wouldn't let them go help the doctors. I still laugh when I think about that scouts question. I didn't have a good answer.

So, a quick idea that might motivate some ideas from your scouts is do a three mile hike instead of a troop meeting and set up stations along the way where the scouts experience or see skills in action. Just doing something completely different will be refreshing. Getting the older scouts to come up with creative skills stations ideas will be fun for them. And depending on your meeting location, the hike itself should be fun as well. Could even do it on bikes.

Barry

Edited by Eagledad
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Agree with Barry. Also most of the T-Fc skills can be attained just by doing scouting stuff itself.

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1 hour ago, Eagledad said:

Instead inspire your older scouts to think of some fun activities to motivate learning the skills.

great points Barry.  Adding to this, I've always like the idea of the camporee-esque competitions or games for skills such as knot tying because they give the side benefits of promoting patrol spirit.

I've seen several attempts at "practical 1st aid training" but it always seems to fall short....for example making splints or stretchers, but they'e never really followed through to any real completion.... instead ending in lip service and pencil whipping.  Your simulated car crash example stimulates a sense of discovery, at least at the kick-off of it.

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2 minutes ago, DuctTape said:

Agree with Barry. Also most of the T-Fc skills can be attained just by doing scouting stuff itself.

that's right, get those young scouts involved in setting up a tarp for a dining fly on the next campout instead of teaching knots in a meeting... with the older scouts more of a mentor than a teacher.

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Have the older scouts help you come up with fun games that require the skills you want the scouts to know. So, no more teaching skills. The only requirement for each game is that it be fun and that it teach some bit of skill. Fun has a higher priority.

They may need some help but coming up with fun games is a start. If this works and the older scouts start having more fun then see who'd like to work on coming up with some fun for the older scouts.

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I'd re-phrase....

My requirement wouldn't be that it "teaches" skills.  I think the key is to remove that word 'teach' from the vocabulary.

My requirement be that it "uses" the skills..... then my natural progression.... guys that know will practice, guys that don't know will ask, and guys that know will, like a good older brother, help those that don't.....

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We have a sizable group of older (HS Scouts).  Due to the troop makeup our SPL is typically a JR / SR in High School.  Typically we try to have challenging outings and recognize that the HS group will self segregate from the younger group.  Our patrols are multi-year so they do function for meals and gear setup, then tent with their friends.

Our success in keeping them engaged is to have them do some of the classes (Scouts choose the subject not specific advancement details) and also we lean on them for outings and leadership there.

You have to allow them some leeway, welcome them, and realize they may not be at all meetings

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3 hours ago, blw2 said:

My requirement be that it "uses" the skills..... then my natural progression.... guys that know will practice, guys that don't know will ask, and guys that know will, like a good older brother, help those that don't.....

I like this.  Older scouts don't want to hear - "tonight we're going to have a lesson on ..."  Build the challenge into what you do.

 

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3 hours ago, blw2 said:

I'd re-phrase....

My requirement wouldn't be that it "teaches" skills.  I think the key is to remove that word 'teach' from the vocabulary.

My requirement be that it "uses" the skills..... then my natural progression.... guys that know will practice, guys that don't know will ask, and guys that know will, like a good older brother, help those that don't.....

gadz-zooks, I had some typos in there....

I can do better....

My requirement WOULD be that it "uses" the skills..... then BY natural progression.... guys that know will END UP getting practice, guys that don't know will ask, and guys that know HOW will, like a good older brother, help those that don't..... (all without even knowing they are teaching, practicing, or learning)

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