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Cburkhardt

Great Examples of Girl Troop Successes

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Its an N of 1, but our district is seeing actual growth in membership year on year in the Scouts BSA program, according to our DE at the last roundtable. That's not the norm for our district.

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Posted (edited)
On ‎3‎/‎29‎/‎2019 at 8:37 PM, Cburkhardt said:

Our 25-girl Troop had an enjoyable Saturday hiking in Rock Creek Park in DC.  The three patrols split up and practiced their map reading and compass skills, at trail lunches together and finished their fire building advancement requirements is a patrol competition.  Our advancement co-chairs are enjoying our unusual “all-beginner” Scout membership by assuring our meeting and events are getting the girls through Scout and Tenderfoot requirements before summer camp.  Please share simple things working with girl units you are aware of.

I missed the part about trying to get to Tenderfoot before camp when I first read this.  This is the one thing that troubles me about the new girl troops.  Understandably, there's a desire to be in that first Eagle group, but rushing through shortchanges the experience.  I'm not saying your troop is doing that, mind you.  My comment is coming from my own shortcomings.  It's tempting to want to see my own sons make rank quickly, and I'm a little too focused on advancement sometimes, since that's my job with the troop.  Many times, as I watch the scouts in our group, I have to remember that a huge part of what they're doing when they seem to be aimlessly wandering around or horsing around and not paying attention, is enjoying themselves and learning about each other in the process.  After all, if they're not having fun while scouting, they're not going to keep doing it.  Plus, the older scouts who stick around for meetings and activities even after they've reached Eagle (or are really close) seem to enjoy the outings even more than some of the younger ones do.

I'm sure I'll look back on my boys' experience and wonder how time flew by so quickly.

 

Edited by swilliams

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Will All-Girl Troops Advance Their Scouts Too Fast?

Great thoughts, SWilliams.  Our Troop is programming all of its activities to cover the Scout and Tenderfoot rank requirements, but of course not every girl can attend every meeting or event, so there is variance among the girls after just 2 months on advancement progress.  We are following the program to the letter and are not trying to rush girls with their rank advancement.  I'm thinking we will have all 28 Scouts at Scout Rank and maybe 6 or 7 at Tenderfoot by our Court of Honor during the first weekend of June.  I'm certain the girls who attend summer camp will come home having completed Tenderfoot.

I will observe that the girls in our Troop are -- on their own -- quite interested in advancement and their uniforms.  They are getting signed-off on their requirements and confidently present themselves to members of our 7-person Scoutmaster Staff when they think they are ready.  We are assuring full compliance with the requirements to set the right ground rules for the long run.  I intended not to bring up merit badges until summer camp, but several of the girls read through their Scout Handbooks and figured it out on their own.  So, we now have 12 girls with blue cards pursuing merit badges and 3 will attend a merit badge university this coming weekend.  

Because the all-girl Troops are starting simultaneously and the Scouts are starting at the same point (in terms of advancement achievements), we are going to structurally see a huge number of advancements for girls going through the system.  Our 14 and 15 year old girls are indeed going to advance rapidly through the early ranks because those requirements will be age-easy for them.  Our Troop is a model organization with two advancement co-chairs with years of experience in other Troops.  I urge my Scoutmaster peers with all-girl Troops to be vigilant on advancement sign-offs because we do not want new and inexperienced Scouters to fail to require the fullest demonstration of skill mastery.  That said and based on two months of observation, I reasonably speculate that all-girl Troops are going to have more and faster overall advancement at the earlier ages. 

This is going to lead to potential complaints from experienced Scouters that our Scouts are being evaluated at a lower standard.  I read observations from some on other postings about whether a particular all-girl Troop should have won the top award at a recent camporee.  I did not spend time parsing through the lengthy and detailed criticisms some Scouters had for that camporee committee and don't want to relitigate that incident on this string.  The point here is that advancement in all-girl Troops will be under the microscope by experienced Scouters and those Troops need to openly exhibit precise compliance with advancement activity.  Of course the most important reason for precise advancement compliance is that we want the Scouts to acquire these skills and absorb character-building lessons in the process.

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According to a national employee in membership, yesterday, the total number of girls in ScoutsBSA crossed over 1,900 troops and 14,000 registered girls.  

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1 hour ago, swilliams said:

... trying to get to Tenderfoot before camp ... that troubles me ...

If we are talking about first camping activity, obviously that would be troubling because half of the requirements can only be completed on a campout!

But, I think the scouter means "before summer camp", which wouldn't trouble me at all. Every scoutmaster should want all of their youth in top shape before they land in the middle of a bustling camp three months from now? In my troop, that means being sure the scouts are physically fit, that they are ready for patrol cooking for a week straight, that they know enough knots to set up canvas, and that they can look sharp at flag ceremony. (That latter one is no joke. One year, we drilled our scouts at the church's flag pole at every meeting until every patrol could handle the flag flawlessly.)

We put it on our PLs to train and sign-off on T2F skills at camp -- be on a weekend or at summer camp -- regardless of what other time the PL would like to spend on his own advancement. I would far rather have our PLs enter summer camp with only one two boys needing to earn tenderfoot than all eight. Keep in mind in a new troop, the PL wouldn't even have made rank. The PL's job is to qualify to take the patrol hiking and camping. First class rank is that qualification. Now that may take a couple of years, but it starts with giving everyone confidence by getting most of the scouts to nail those tenderfoot skills within a couple of months.

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Before we get to summer camp, we will have been on three weekend campouts, two significant day hikes and 4.5 months of Troop meetings.  Ambitious girls who want to earn Tenderfoot by the beginning or end of summer camp in our Troop will have had a good opportunities to learn and prove themselves to that advancement level.

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19 minutes ago, Cburkhardt said:

Before we get to summer camp, we will have been on three weekend campouts, two significant day hikes and 4.5 months of Troop meetings.  Ambitious girls who want to earn Tenderfoot by the beginning or end of summer camp in our Troop will have had a good opportunities to learn and prove themselves to that advancement level.

With Scouts BSA officially starting for girls in February, hitting Tenderfoot by summer camp is certainly well within norms in terms of time needed. Scouts who cross over from a Pack to a Troop in March an do it, so certainly if a scout signed up with a Troop in February they'd have plenty of time and (hopefully) opportunity to do so.

I wouldn't even call it "ambitious", I think it's a reasonable goal for any scout to be well-prepared for the summer camp experience.

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13 minutes ago, FireStone said:

With Scouts BSA officially starting for girls in February, hitting Tenderfoot by summer camp is certainly well within norms in terms of time needed. Scouts who cross over from a Pack to a Troop in March an do it, so certainly if a scout signed up with a Troop in February they'd have plenty of time and (hopefully) opportunity to do so.

I wouldn't even call it "ambitious", I think it's a reasonable goal for any scout to be well-prepared for the summer camp experience.

Especially looking at the webelos requirements relative to the tenderfoot ones. Most webelos scouts should be ready to breeze through those requirements quickly enough having done earlier versions of them prior to crossing over. 

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1 hour ago, Cburkhardt said:

This is going to lead to potential complaints from experienced Scouters that our Scouts are being evaluated at a lower standard.  I read observations from some on other postings about whether a particular all-girl Troop should have won the top award at a recent camporee.  I did not spend time parsing through the lengthy and detailed criticisms some Scouters had for that camporee committee and don't want to relitigate that incident on this string.  The point here is that advancement in all-girl Troops will be under the microscope by experienced Scouters and those Troops need to openly exhibit precise compliance with advancement activity.  Of course the most important reason for precise advancement compliance is that we want the Scouts to acquire these skills and absorb character-building lessons in the process.

If not experienced scouters, than who? I seem to remember several posts on this forum asking the experienced scouters to stay on with the new program so as to help get these new units up to speed. 

Girls units are not under a microscope of the experienced scouters. It just appears that way because cheerleaders of the new program are over-promoting the girls to the point that experienced scouters are just expressing concern of the qualities of the whole program for all the scouts. The cheating adults at the camporee was just one nauseating example of adults going too far. You think the comments of that situation are unfair? 

Actually you would find hundreds of post on this forum of group advancement concerns for the last 30 years. Ever since National started pushing crossovers by dens instead of individually by age, experienced scouters have observed a shift toward group advancements. And why not, it's more efficient in keeping the promise of "1st Class in the 1st year" found in each Scout Handbook. The concerned now, as it has always been, has nothing to do with girls, but more of protecting, or promoting, the traditional program where individual scouts are encouraged to make independent decisions without influence from adult direction. Group advancement is also a typical approach for adults without any other scouting experience because they don't have the wisdom to understand the greater value of developing character from independent decisions. I will include professional scouters and volunteer elite scouters in that group. For all those adults, promotion of stature is easier and faster to measure the adult performance of their program as a whole. Egos. 

We will assume the best of adult intentions in that they are not cheer-leading groups of girls to be the first female Eagle in their area. Well maybe not the adults who cheated the boys at the camporee. I'm sure that is an unusual situation.

As for minimum rank by summer camp, not a big deal really for most of us. We all want scouts confident enough to camp for a week in the wilderness. But at some point the adults should hand it off decision making to the scouts. When do you feel comfortable that they can do that?

Barry

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, swilliams said:

but rushing through shortchanges the experience. 

 

3 hours ago, Cburkhardt said:

I urge my Scoutmaster peers with all-girl Troops to be vigilant on advancement sign-offs because we do not want new and inexperienced Scouters to fail to require the fullest demonstration of skill mastery. 

 

3 hours ago, Cburkhardt said:

The point here is that advancement in all-girl Troops will be under the microscope by experienced Scouters and those Troops need to openly exhibit precise compliance with advancement activity.  Of course the most important reason for precise advancement compliance is that we want the Scouts to acquire these skills and absorb character-building lessons in the process.

I agree.

Now, to implement this -- helping new and inexperienced scouters see the importance and benefit of requiring a full demononstration of skill mastery.

Suppose you want to convince an ASM, new to BSA, about how rushing through shortchanges the scouts.  About how cutting corners on demonstration of skill mastery shortchanges the scouts.   Do you have, say, any recommended reading to suggest?   (This is not a hypothetical question,   I would like to bring someone around to this point of view and have not succeeded yet.)

Edited by Treflienne
typos

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Nothing is out there yet on a matter like this, and certainly nothing specific to the advancement start-up of all-girl troops.  What I am going to do is post good examples of how an well run all-girl Troops are proceeding right now with their advancement. 

I have been talking to a lot of people over the last 1.5 years about family Scouting (including being involved at the granular level for an entire year with a Webelos II group) and have yet to come across a single person who exhibited any tendency to generally "go easy" on girls with individual advancement or encourage such a practice by others.  If rushing and cutting corners is a general problem across Scouts BSA it needs to be addressed in a broadly-distributed article.  That would be a prime topic for Bryan of Scouting or maybe even Scouting Magazine.

 

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31 minutes ago, Treflienne said:

... Suppose you want to convince an ASM, new to BSA, about how rushing through shortchanges the scouts.  About how cutting corners on demonstration of skill mastery shortchanges the scouts.   Do you have, say, any recommended reading to suggest?   (This is not a hypothetical question,   I would like to bring someone around to this point of view and have not succeeded yet.) 

@Treflienne I can think two strategies

1. drills and competitions on the material that was signed off. This could be on a campout where the prize for demonstrated mastery is dessert.

  • To make it interesting, score the scouts (on a 0 to 5 scale or something simple) on each skill you tested, but then, assign that score, not to the scout, but to the leader who sign off on her requirement.
  • The leader who has the highest score gets recognized for producing quality scouts at the next CoH.
  • The leader in last place gets a "Sign it when you see it" totem (maybe to wear around his/her neck when in uniform).

2. The SM and the CC also have a nuclear option.

  • They can simply ask the scout at an SMC or BoR, "If I asked you to <insert requirement here>. Could you do it?"
  • A scout is trustworthy, if she says "no" have her come back to complete the SMC/BoR next week or when she knows that she mastered the skill. On her honor.
  • If the scout says "yes" but then later is found to struggle with the skill, ask "What happened? I thought you told me that you had mastered <insert requirement here>." What do we need to do to get you back on track.

In the meantime, it's okay to agree to disagree with other adults on things like this. For good or ill, no matter what we ASMs think and how loud we say it. The attitudes of the SM and the CC will rub off on the youth, and eventually if the youth step up, they will set the correct tone.

Stay the course. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

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22 hours ago, Treflienne said:

Suppose you want to convince an ASM, new to BSA, about how rushing through shortchanges the scouts.  About how cutting corners on demonstration of skill mastery shortchanges the scouts.   Do you have, say, any recommended reading to suggest? 

What is the advancement program/model you use? If it's just the written list of requirements in the handbook then it's easy for a new ASM to say just sign it off and move on. On the other hand, if the list of requirements is part of something larger then that's what the new ASM needs to read. In this case ensuring that the older scouts will be teaching the younger scouts the skills will end up solving a lot of these problems. If you have to teach other scouts how to tie a bowline or start a fire you really have to know it. Starting off there are no older scouts so the scouters have to prime that pump. They should explain to the scout getting signed off that they need to know the sill well enough to teach it to someone else. It's a lot different to say "show me how to tie a bowline" and "teach me how to tie a bowline."

 

22 hours ago, Treflienne said:

(This is not a hypothetical question,   I would like to bring someone around to this point of view and have not succeeded yet.)

Unfortunately I feel your pain. All I can say is remember that scouts is a 2 steps forward 1 step back type of activity (hopefully with a lot of fun in there as well).

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17 minutes ago, MattR said:

Unfortunately I feel your pain. All I can say is remember that scouts is a 2 steps forward 1 step back type of activity (hopefully with a lot of fun in there as well).

Years ago Matt and I agreed in a discussion that Scoutmastering is 50% with the scouts, and 50% with the adults.

If the Scoutmaster wants to keep these kinds of struggles to a minimum (minimum can still be a lot), they may eventually have to assume the bad guy role of gatekeeper for the program values and process. Sometimes they have to be authoritative (flex their position of leadership muscle) to force a specific direction. Right or wrong, the program has to move forward. Of course the SM may find their decision was wrong down the road. They take comfort in knowing that humility is the fertile ground where character grows.:cool:

Barry

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14 hours ago, MattR said:

They should explain to the scout getting signed off that they need to know the sill well enough to teach it to someone else. It's a lot different to say "show me how to tie a bowline" and "teach me how to tie a bowline."

That sounds like it may be a helpful approach.

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