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allangr1024

Troop office expectations

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So here is a question we the adult scouters are throwing around right now.  We are seeing that our older scouts are coming to fewer camping trips.  Some have expressed to me (ASM) that they have done everything on camping trips there is to do, and they are boring.  We do mostly car camping at local scout camps and at state parks in the area.  I know that varying the types of camping trip will help, with doing some backpacking and water based traveling (canoes).  But the PLC does not choose these kinds of things.

So the Scoutmaster wants to require that all scouts holding an elected office or an appointed position be required to go on 50% of the camping trips.  He reasons that this will increase attendance for our life scouts, most of whom have been around for three years and hold the most POR's.  Since all scouts in the upper ranks must serve in order to advance in rank, we are wondering if this troop requirement in effect adds to the requirements as stated in the handbook.  Or are the two concepts effectively separated so there need be no concern.

I know that keeping older scouts active in the troop has been a problem that goes back almost the hundred years of Scouting in America.  Are we reasoning correctly that a troop can set such policies on serving in POR's in this way, or are we way overboard.  Should we override the PLC and put more high adventure trips on the schedule?  I could foresee the SM going in to the annual planning meeting and telling the PLC to include backpacking on the schedule somewhere.  Or is there another way?   

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If the older boys was more backpacking or canoeing or other non-car camping trips, surely they need to impress this upon the PLC themselves. I'm pretty sure the adults muscling in and telling the PLC what camps they should be having will be dispiriting and demotivating for the PLC. 

As for the SM demanding everyone go on 50% of camps? You ever been on a camp when some people don't really want to be there? It's not a joyous occasion. Trying to force attendance is fixing the symptom, not the underlying problem.

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DiREQUIRING Scouts to come will gain push back.   What they want is challenge, (safe) adventure.   The Philmont experience, close to home. 

Contact the local hiking clubs, the local canoe/kayak clubs. Here in Maryland, we have the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, and the Canoe Cruisers Club.   Get your Scouts involved with them.  Plan a week long trek, somewhere, so they can USE the skills they think they have.  

If you have a parent, uncle, grandparent who owns some property,  ask about a long term campout, away from home...  Any fire wood?  Build a cabin ? (Yes, build a cabin !).  Dig/build a privy, supply water, designate a quartermaster...    Work with your Scouts, include them, INSIST they make some decisions, some ideas, some plans.  DO NOT give them the plans,  let them come up with them, on your suggestion, but they MUST make the decisions.  Parents make it possible, but the Scouts make it desirable.   

Campouts are boring?  Whose fault is that?   Who is denying these Scouts their opportunities?   Read...  https://www.atmuseum.org/1936-boy-scout-thru-hike.html

Could our modern day Scouts do the same?  Why not?   

Edited by SSScout

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Your PLC should set a standard for what it means to be considered "active in your troop" - and clear expectation is that is the measuring stick that will be used for rank advancement criteria that stipulate this as a requirement.  For example, STAR requirement #1: "Be active in your troop for at least four months as a First Class Scout."  For example, 50% (60%, 75%, etc.) of all troop activities must be attended during that 4 months.

Discuss with the PLC, and especially the SPL, are there times where it may be acceptable to have less than that percentage? If a child is from a split home, and one parent does not allow their child to "do scouting" on their weekend, should we bend? If Scout X has a soccer finalist tournament 4 hours away? I think that is reasonable, but if you give them logical scenarios it is helpful, and to me make it more acceptable to the other scouts that there is an expectation and it is up to them to decide what they will attend.

As far as what events the PLC is planning- yeah, that is probably where the main focus should be at.  Are these older scouts not part of the PLC? If they are in PORs, I would say they should be there and influence the events being chosen.  A trap that I see far too often is adults set the parameters too tightly on what the PLC can select.  If they chose a campout 3 hours away that will be a canoe trip, yet the adults don't want to do that activity, they steer the youth away from doing it.  Or, the adults may think they are doing the "right thing" by having the campouts be activities that even the brand new 11 year scout has to be able to participate in every time.  Some 11 year olds have developed differently than others, or even are just more general interest towards the more arduous outdoor activities than their peers, so don't get so hyper-inclusive minded that in turn you are turning away the older youth.  Of course, I would be sure to tell the older youth "we planned these with you in mind, so I would like to believe I can expect you are going to participate".

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Your troop is in a rut and needs a little outside shaking up. It's normal because the male human  mammal is by nature...lazy. It's ok, that is our nature, I hear male lions are even worse. Lucky beast. But, the good news is we males are also attracted to adventure. Adventure can mean anything really; a troop doesn't have to hike the Grand Canyon for adventure. I have no problem with adults adding a little boost to the program when they do it passively. 

First off, change the troop meetings around for a couple of weeks. Meet somewhere else. In better weather, I like to push the scouts to plan something at a local park. Orienteering is really good because it makes the scouts hike off on their own looking using the compass to find the end goal. Which could be a  treat. But this time of year, I might suggest a bowling ally or skating rink. Sure, why not. 

OK, you said the camp outs are boring. It's not that the adults don't have creative ideas, it's that you aren't sure how to push the PLC to try a few ideas. Call the SPL and ask him to allow  you 15 minutes of their time. Don't tell him you brought a guest who is an expert in fly fishing, shot gun sports, rappelling,  competitive archery, or even building hot rods. Then, go out and find that expert and come up with some kind of weekend activity that the troop can do two or three troop meetings to prepare for. We did this with Rappelling. We found a couple of rappelling experts who helped us train the scout for two troop meetings, then worked with us for a full Saturday at a state park where we camped. But you could do it with shooting experts or fishing experts, or whatever you come up with. Have your expert give a 15 minute presentation for the PLC and then suggest they kick around ideas for using your expert for a FUN campout.

You can do this with anything really, but the objective is to shake up things to get the PLC out of their rut. 

Barry

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First, we all have to accept that it is patently immoral to expect 16-17 year olds to want to always hike and camp (and plan and execute service projects, hold meetings, etc ...) with the rest of us. For their personal development, they need to sometimes do these things independently with their mates. To become excellent citizens by the time they enter a ballot booth, they need to explore this great country on their own without the sense that "minders" are herding them towards one persuasion or another.

BSA will no longer allow us to use their brand on such independent youth activities. Therefore, to succeed in the world in these days our best youth must necessarily scout the land outside of the life of the troop. They need time to do that. So, be prepared to give them the guidance that you can to help them plan and execute properly. In doing so, note that all of the liability may be on you, not the organization. So, there is real risk for tremendous award.

That said, you are an ASM who supposedly likes to do other things besides plop camping. Simply announce to your SPL, "Mr./Mrs. <insert registered adult leader's name here> and I will be doing <insert super activity here> on <insert dates here>. Any 1st class scouts who wish to join us may do so, so long as they camp with the troop 3 of 6 days where we will be conditioning for the activity."

Alternatively, if you have older boys who've wanted to do something noble, tell them to form a crew, name the registered adults who they would like to do it with, and you will help them make it so.

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you said the plc does not choose these kinds of things.  Are adventurous ideas ever submitted?  Does the plc know that more adventurous camping is an option?  Our troop was full of stale ideas and adult leaders set in their ways.  The scouts had been doing the same things for years because that was the only thing they knew.  It took a few new vocal scouts to submit fresh ideas they found online to the plc and a few willing adults to start making things happen.  Many scouts would not know what Philmont was unless someone told them.  My son had never been canoeing before he joined the troop, so I don't think it was unusual for him to not consider it as an activity when planning.  I think this is common when you are dealing with young scouts that don't have a lot of experiences.

if ideas are submitted to the plc but just not chosen then what about splitting the troop if resources are available?  Older scouts go on a backpacking trip and the younger scouts or scouts that don't want to backpack camp locally and do something else. 

If the scouts are having fun they will come.  Why would they want to be there if its not fun?  I wouldn't want to come either.

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3 hours ago, allangr1024 said:

So the Scoutmaster wants to require that all scouts holding an elected office or an appointed position be required to go on 50% of the camping trips. 

That's the key point in your quote.  In a Scout-led unit, the PLC would establish this requirement, not the Scoutmaster.  But to me it begs the bigger issue of 'why' are the older Scouts not attending outings.  This is pretty common across units I've seen, and usually is attributable to a number of things including lack of a program for the older Scouts, too many distractions, and too much of a focus on the older Scouts simply being their to teach the younger Scouts.  Ultimately this should involve a conversation with the older Scouts to find out what they want to do, and what would get them more involved.  In a lot of units, this discussion leads to establishment of a venture crew.  It could also include having adults bring ideas for outings to the PLC.  Good luck!

Edited by BobWhiteVA

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