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T2Eagle

Summer Camp First Year Scouts

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In the other current summer camp thread the OP and some others make reference to Brownsea Island and similar programs for first year scouts, and I wanted to have a discussion about their pros and cons.  Our camp calls it T21 -- The Starting Place, and although it is well run I'm not a big fan.

Rather than concentrating on learning basic scout skills in that kind of a classroom or structured setting, I advise my newest scouts to do things at summer camp that they're not going to get to do on other campouts.  I tell them to take at least one boating program: canoeing, row boat small sail, etc., something at the nature lodge, something at handicrafts, something at the shooting ranges, etc.

I do this because I think the best way to learn the basic skills is organically through doing them and by observing and being taught them by our older scouts.  If you camp with us through your first year you'll have a chance to cover all the skills these programs cover, and you'll do it by whatever fun activities we're doing on those trips.

Some of my fellow leaders feel differently and give different advice, and so it is left up to the individual.

How do the rest of you feel about these types of first year programs?

 

 

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Posted (edited)

I personally did not do a first year program. As you can tell, I’ve done perfectly fine without it. I do regret skipping my first year summer camp though.

My troop does highly encourage first years to do it. The summer camp we went to last year and again this year also has a program to help get to first class. We do not like that and do not let scouts take the path to first class program. 

All the camps we what’s gone to did help with requirements since we are a small troop, we can’t do every thing that they cover as fast.

I personally am not against it as a youth.

Edited by ItsBrian

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Posted (edited)

I'm not big on Brownsea / T21 programs.  IMHO, those skills should be taught one-on-one and are great opportunities for both senior scouts and adult leaders to have direct interactions with the scouts.  Work those requirements into the natural result of camping and being active. 

The key is get the scouts doing activities that are fun and new.  Inspire these kids to want to be scouts.  Sometimes the Brownsea / T21 programs are just about checking off requirements and forget about having fun.

If done well, it's "ok".   Very rarely great.  Done poorly, you've potentially lost a scout.

Edited by fred johnson
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I would not be opposed to them, so long as the troop follows the instructions that the camps give- the camp staff is there to teach the skills, but not to actually "sign off".  It is up the troop to validate that the scout learned what they should.  Sadly, it is too often the case, our troop included, that the advancement coordinator just takes the report from the end of the week (which is in reality just an attendance report) and credits the scouts, no actual validation is going on.  

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Mixed emotions on this one. I've seen great, I've seen good, and I've seen poor.

I missed out my first summer, so I didn't do a FYC program. But the folks who did go had a tremendous jump start on me advancement wise. And they had a terrific FYC director and staff. He was a retired MGySgt who was firm, fair, and compasionate, But could also put you in your place if needed :) He did it for 25+ years, and when he signed off on something, the scouts truly mastered the skill. Before he passed on, he hand selected his successor, and they continued on his legacy. The program was excellent at that camp when I left.

Second camp I had expereince with had issues with there FYC program. They had to many Scouts, and not enough staff. It was an awakening on how different programs can be.

Third camp was mix between the two. Good  director and staff, but too many Scouts for them to handle by themselves. They asked for Scouters to help out, and many were newly crossed over ex WDLs. Observing them it seemed at times like Cub Scouts, and my son who was in the group concurred.

Fourth camp had major issues, and not just with the FYC program. We are not going back any time soon.

Last camp did something I never encountered before: split the FYC program into 2 programs. 1/2 day is for Tenderfoot and Second Class advancement. 1/2 day is for First Class. Could not do both, only one or the other. Glad they did that too. Middle son did the First Class program, and he said they didn't do much in it. He said it was a waste of time.

 

50 minutes ago, fred johnson said:

The key is get the scouts doing activities that are fun and new.  Inspire these kids to want to be scouts.  Sometimes the Brownsea / T21 programs are just about checking off requirements and forget about having fun.

If done well, it's "ok".   Very rarely great.  Done poorly, you've potentially lost a scout.

I hate to say it, but it is not just FYC programs. I am seeing this more and more with MB classes at summer camp, as well as MBUs. The camp that had major issues actually awarded an Eagle required MB to a Scout who dropped the class the first day to do another MB. We had  Scouts "earn" canoeing or kayaking MB after 3 days, yet they spent a good bit of time on land b/c they didn;t have enough boats to take them out. When they went on the troop's canoe trip a month later, there were major issues. Even though they had "earned" the MB, they could not teach the younger Scouts any of the skills.

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Posted (edited)

T21 programs?   Hate the things.   Just hate 'em.   

  Most camps have them taught by the youngest  staff members,   the classes  ( didn't we come here to get away from school ?)  are so large that one on one time is minimal or non existent. 

The reqs may say " demonstrate  how to..." but there is not enough time for 15-25 scouts to do that so the instructor demonstrates the skill , then signs off everyones book.   Because it looks good if everyone passes the class.   I have lost count of the scouts who proudly wear their First Class badge, but don't know what a square lashing is.   

Let me say that again,  it's not that they can't tie one correctly, they have no idea what one is !    None.  Blank stare.

I look at their handbook.  Yep, signed off at summercamp.  Sigh.    

So we end up reteaching lashings, knots, first aid, knife and ax, etc.  Now I love teaching, I'm good at it. But it's not my job to teach the younger scouts, unless  directly asked to do so by their PL or SPL.  But its really sad when a Life scout is asked to teach  what I would consider basic skills to a few first years, and he doesn't know them either.  Because he " learned " them at camp two years ago.    Oh I see how it's easier to have everyone get signed off at camp.  It looks good when everyone is ranking up, and the older scouts don't need to bother learning how to teach the younger ones. But  as Scouters we cheat them when we allow this. The older scouts need to form relationships with the newbies, and this is a great way to do it.   The newbies need to earn their badges not just have them handed out for showing up.

So my advice is, learn to do something at camp you can't do on a troop campout.   Go shoot a shotgun, a bow and arrow, swim in the lake,  paddle a canoe,  sail.    

Oldscout

I see that Eagle 94 had a great teacher for FYC.  Lucky him.   I am glad to hear they exist but I have never met one

 

 

 

Edited by Oldscout448
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I totally agree with Oldscout.  I have seen programs where they walk 3 miles, no maps, no compasses.  Signed off for the 5 mile hike....

Someone holds an axe up and suddenly they have the requirement for sharpening an axe signed off.  One boy with a broken arm that never got in the water, got his swimming merit badge.

You need to review the signoffs before signing the books.  A few of the programs are ok, but most aren't.

Personally, I have similar feelings towards most merit badge classes at camp as well.  Some are ok, but many are just sit and watch.

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I'm indifferent. Our camp's T2FC area is well run. But, it robs PL's/APL's (not to mention TG) of their purpose.

We no longer sign off on requirements just because the T2FC staff signs off that the scout was present when they were taught. (That's also the recommendation of the camp brochure.) Boys are expected to demonstrate skill mastery to their PL.

Bottom line: we've gotten no more Eagles with or without First-class-first-year, so if a kid would rather knock out baskets and leatherwork than got to the T2FC area, I encourage adults to support him. We do want younger scouts to try and advance a rank at camp if they haven't done so already, but that's generally so the adults present could feel useful by holding the occasional BoR during free time or in the evening.

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We in Chickasaw Council and Kia Kima (KKSR) have a Summer Camp program called TrailBlazers.  This program is a 3 hr program (not in a stinking room) designed primarily for scouts who are new to scouting and are coming to camp for the first time.  The purpose of the program is to give new scouts a jump start by teaching them the basic outdoor skills needed throughout their scouting career with a focus on working up to the requirements of First Class.

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