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TMSM

Keeping Older Scouts

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We had an age gap in our troop for many years but we have been slowly rolling to where we now have HS juniors and many more high school scouts. If the have been SPL and/or are Life scouts and have everything but the Eagle Project to do we allow them to move into an older patrol if they wish.

Next fall i'll have 8 or 9 in this patrol and would like to keep them engaged and happy. The have asked if they can be the judges for patrol competitions, set up the games we play, we have them do one off projects like putting on new axe handles. They all wear and instructoer patches and have divided expertise owners amoung them. They have no interest in Jr Scoutmaster and most are active in OA. Its seems like this going well but always looking for new responsibilities I can give them. 

Can you share what your older scouts do and how you keep them happy and engaged?

 

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Key is to keep them engaged while also letting them have some space.  Our troop runs multi age patrols.  They cook / work within the patrol on activities but the troop sort of self segregates for camping / hammocking / tenting.  Also if you are on a campout as an SPL / JASM / Eagle Scout you can come eat with the adult group

For activities this past weekend we had the winter trip, several hours riding to the coast.  The older group rode in one car, led the setup for the troop, were in charge of the activities.  When we were coming back from some activities the older group stopped at one place and did some things not the whole troop did.  As they were older, seemed appropriate and they enjoyed the trust and freedom.

As leaders we direct the younger scouts to them, also in our unit adults do not sign off on any TF / 2nd / 1st class requirements.  The scouts have to sit down with a Life or Eagle and have a conversation or demonstrate their accomplishments.  There are 1 or 2 that specifically call out "present yourself to your leader"...we do those

Let them have FUN, let them be older, let them be responsible; they will continue to come to meetings and events as long as they events are engaging.

Edited by Jameson76
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1 hour ago, TMSM said:

 

Next fall i'll have 8 or 9 in this patrol and would like to keep them engaged and happy. The have asked if they can be the judges fo patrol competitions, set up the games we play, we have them do one off projects like putting on new axe handles. They all wear and instructoer patches and have divided expertise owners amoung them. They have no interest in Jr Scoutmaster and most are active in OA. Its seems like this going well but always looking for new responsibilities I can give them. 

They told you what they want to do, let hem do it. :)

Another thing that may help, have them plan a patrol trip just for them. My old troop had a yearly AT backpacking trip with criteria: First Class or higher, and do a prep trip. That really got folks going and kept them motivated.

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1 hour ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

They told you what they want to do, let hem do it. :)

Another thing that may help, have them plan a patrol trip just for them. My old troop had a yearly AT backpacking trip with criteria: First Class or higher, and do a prep trip. That really got folks going and kept them motivated.

Dead on right.  Give them space.  Listen to what they really want to do.  Then, let them do it.  It might mean they want a patrol based ski weekend.  Fine.  It might mean they want a trip out west.  Great.   Often, they want to do something that sounds cool to their friends and that they can brag about.

I'm not one for fixed or mixed age patrols.  IMHO, the key thing is that a patrol is a group of friends that want to do things together.  Our success with older scouts is to keep them active doing things they really want to do.  And it usually means adventures and fellowship.  

Edited by fred8033
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1 hour ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

They told you what they want to do, let hem do it. :)

No doubt we have and that is going well - they dont always know what other troops do and love to hear other cool ideas. Then if they want they can  take on those items too.

 

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I keep a list of cool camps that I can occasionally mention to my son and his friends and let their minds wander and dream.  There's cool programs at the 4 established BSA High Adventure camps (like Dog Sledding at Northern Tier, Scuba treks at Sea Base, and Cavalcade horse treks at Philmont), and there are cool, unique high adventure activities offered by various councils. 

A few of the coolest sounding council-run high adventure activities include....

There are also some camps that are open to all ages (not just older scouts), but that have cool locations and a lot of programs other camps might not offer. A couple "dream summer camps"  are:

 

 

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On the dreaming list, also consider Swamp Base in Louisiana- gets awesome reviews, and the Council operated Seabase in Galveston, TX. 

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Totally agree with you about Swamp Base --- which is why I have it in my original list of 4 great council-run high adventures.

Unfortunately, Seabase Galveston doesn't look like a good option any more. The place seems to have changed. It's evidently no longer a BSA facility connected to Bay Area Council.  In fact, they changed their name from "Sea Scout Base " to "Sea Star Base". Doesn't look like they do any BSA high adventure treks anymore --- instead, it looks like their summer programs are open to all youth anywhere.  I did find a link to "Scouting" on their site, but it looks like scouting is now an afterthought with a small number of day programs.

Their STEM/NOVA program is now a shadow of what it once was.  Whereas they once had one of the strongest STEM/NOVA programs of any council any where, they now offer a small number of NOVA workshops for Cub Scouts only. None at all for Boy Scouts any more (where they're needed most, since few troops have figured out how to run their own NOVA activities, but lots of packs roll 'em all the time). 

Today, it looks like they care more about hosting your wedding reception than giving boys a high adventure experience...

See for yourself:  https://www.ssbgalveston.org/ 

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22 minutes ago, mrkstvns said:

Totally agree with you about Swamp Base --- which is why I have it in my original list of 4 great council-run high adventures.

Unfortunately, Seabase Galveston doesn't look like a good option any more. The place seems to have changed. It's evidently no longer a BSA facility connected to Bay Area Council.  In fact, they changed their name from "Sea Scout Base " to "Sea Star Base". Doesn't look like they do any BSA high adventure treks anymore --- instead, it looks like their summer programs are open to all youth anywhere.  I did find a link to "Scouting" on their site, but it looks like scouting is now an afterthought with a small number of day programs.

Their STEM/NOVA program is now a shadow of what it once was.  Whereas they once had one of the strongest STEM/NOVA programs of any council any where, they now offer a small number of NOVA workshops for Cub Scouts only. None at all for Boy Scouts any more (where they're needed most, since few troops have figured out how to run their own NOVA activities, but lots of packs roll 'em all the time). 

Today, it looks like they care more about hosting your wedding reception than giving boys a high adventure experience...

See for yourself:  https://www.ssbgalveston.org/ 

Our Sea Scouts are there very often.  The name change was forced on them BTW.  trademarks and such.

It isn't connected to Bay Area Scouts, our Sea Scouts in the Southern region use it all the time.  We just had 300+ Sea Scouts there this last weekend.

If your kids want more adventure, I recommend partnering with local Venture Crews and Sea Scout Ships to be able to support the older youth in a cooperative manner.  For example a boy scout can shoot a 22 or shotgun.  But Sea Scouts and Venturers can shoot any caliper just not fully automatic.  Pistols, black powder.  Have a shooting event that has morning shoots for the younger scouts and afternoon shooting with the older ones with more exciting guns.  Everyone wins when you work together.  

One thing you learn in Powder Horn BTW is how to roll your own adventures so you can tailor it to your unit and make it fun for them vs. going to the "Disney" prepackaged adventures by camps.

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My older scouts have very little interest in guns, not sure why. What they do like to do is to roll their own advetures so maybe encourage them to do a Patrol campout/ mini HA. We will do SeaBase this year and Philmont the next but it seems that they want more. I think they would love the mountaneering with the ranger school. 

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We had one patrol of older Scouts/young ASMs who had been together for at least 6 years, and most since Tigers. Summer after HS graduation, they took a train trip to Yosemite and went backpacking. they spent 2 weeks and had a blast one last time.

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On January 25, 2019 at 6:25 PM, TMSM said:

My older scouts have very little interest in guns, not sure why. What they do like to do is to roll their own advetures so maybe encourage them to do a Patrol campout/ mini HA. We will do SeaBase this year and Philmont the next but it seems that they want more. I think they would love the mountaneering with the ranger school. 

I have no idea why people think handgun and black powder are automatic draws for large groups of scouts. In retrospect, I guess I should have asked  my Webelos DL to teach us more about shooting his 38 special. But, it didn't draw me at all. I became more interested in firearms as an adult, once I had friends who were avid collectors and had a better sense of what I might enjoy shooting. In my teen years, I was more than content with the .22 in my closet and my bow downstairs. But it never dawned on me that this would be anything I'd want to do with my patrol!

My kids were the same way. If the crew scheduled a shooting sports weekend, that was nice, but it was not a "must do" every year. Same for acquatics, or the high adventure bases. But, they always wanted to try to hike someplace challenging.for maybe three nights. Or hit the ski slopes on a bulk discount for a couple days each year.  The two youngest wanted to attend venturing summits, son #1's crew couldn't care less.

Probably the best way to pick your older scouts' brains is to lay out a bunch of recreation maps of your state, and have then think about what they'd like to see or revisit.

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On ‎1‎/‎26‎/‎2019 at 9:46 PM, qwazse said:

I have no idea why people think handgun and black powder are automatic draws for large groups of scouts. In retrospect, I guess I should have asked  my Webelos DL to teach us more about shooting his 38 special. But, it didn't draw me at all. I became more interested in firearms as an adult, once I had friends who were avid collectors and had a better sense of what I might enjoy shooting. In my teen years, I was more than content with the .22 in my closet and my bow downstairs. But it never dawned on me that this would be anything I'd want to do with my patrol!

My kids were the same way. If the crew scheduled a shooting sports weekend, that was nice, but it was not a "must do" every year. Same for acquatics, or the high adventure bases.

Our shooting campouts are always popular but most scouts in our area do not have their own guns or access to guns.  My son lost interest in shooting with scouts because he's bored of the .22 after shooting it for several years at campouts, camp and in private.  He's only interested now if I mention other guns.

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When I was SM, our troop averaged around 10 adults at every camp out. We are a very boy run program, so those adults knew they weren't hanging around interfering with the scouts. Oh, if the program allowed them to participate (like shooting sports or bicycling or something fun) without intruding on the patrol's patrol method, they could be seen in the mix. But in general, the adults weren't in sight of the boys. So where were they?

40% of our scouts were 14 and older. I once polled them to learn exactly what kept them hanging around. Only 25% said it was the outdoors adventure part of the program. So why did the rest of them hang around?

Are the 14 and older scouts much different from the adults that came on our camp outs? 

I was very active in the Scuba Diving Explorers for a couple of years. I had so much fun with that Post, but because of the cost of travel for diving, I attended very few scuba outings. I just enjoyed hanging out with adults who liked the water. 

I was the president of your collegiate flying club. We were very active, to the point of presenting airshows that included the Thunderbirds and Confederate Air Force. Over 60% of our officers and most active members were not pilots. 

There are a lot of theories on older scouts and keeping them around, but I learned the hard way that all of us are adults. Some of us just have more of life's experiences than others. But, we are all adults. So, why do we struggle to treat the 14 year old scouts equal to parent age adults in the troop, or even Crews? 

The adults in our troop just wanted to hang out with like minded people in the out doors. No real agenda, just hang out. The other 3/4 of our older scouts just wanted to hang out with like minded people in the out doors. Is there no room in the Troop/Venturing program for scouts to just hang out with scouts? Does there always have to be some agenda to sway, coax, or bribe scouts to come? 

3 out of 5 Venturing crews fail after three years. Most troops loose 90% of their 15 and older scouts. Ironically, the most adults of failed Venturing Crews came from Troops of failed older scout programs. 

The challenge for the parent age adults is building a troop/venturing program where young adult scouts can sometimes just hang out with their like mind friends without any agenda intended to bribe them there. 

Barry

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46 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

...

The adults in our troop just wanted to hang out with like minded people in the out doors. No real agenda, just hang out. The other 3/4 of our older scouts just wanted to hang out with like minded people in the out doors. Is there no room in the Troop/Venturing program for scouts to just hang out with scouts? Does there always have to be some agenda to sway, coax, or bribe scouts to come? 

3 out of 5 Venturing crews fail after three years. Most troops loose 90% of their 15 and older scouts. Ironically, the most adults of failed Venturing Crews came from Troops of failed older scout programs. 

The challenge for the parent age adults is building a troop/venturing program where young adult scouts can sometimes just hang out with their like mind friends without any agenda intended to bribe them there. 

This makes sense.  The Advancement method in scouting is great for younger scouts, but it loses its impact as a scout gets to be around 14 and/or Life rank. By then, they've done the "fun" merit badges at summer camp and they've earned most of the merit badges they need for Eagle. Except for High Adventure camps, most summer camps and scouting programs offer nothing beyond very basic skills. 

I think the key to attracting and retaining high school age youth is, as you say, to let them just hang out in the outdoors with like minded individuals. I'm not sure about the "without any agenda" because advanced skill training could be an enticing carrot to offer them, and advance planning is fundamental to safety in the outdoors as well as to respect for the outdoors (it's an LNT principle...)

 

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