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Blindfold Your Scouts and Drop Them off In the Middle of Nowhere

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21 hours ago, RichardB said:

@Parkman @walk in the woods just a couple of questions / thoughts.   First, is there a market for a youth serving organization to place kids outdoors without supervision?  What would that look like?    Do you anticipate Mom is going to run out and sign up Timmy or Tammy to pay for this as a service?  What are the expected outcomes?   Second, perhaps instead of blaming youth serving organizations for taking a stand on supervision as a core requirement / expectation - might reflect on how that came to be (study history, delivery methods, failure modes).     Third, aren't organizations now held to a higher standard of care when other peoples kids are involved?   

Even the example given above, the parents have had the authorities in their life on more than one occasion on how they treated their own kids.  How many volunteers that you know would want to weather that storm?   

Again, this won't work within the BSA structure.    But let us know how it goes with your kids.    

Wow, a lot to unpack there.  So, here goes:

1. Is there a market for a youth serving organization to place kids outdoors without supervision?:  First of all, this is a question a follower asks, not a leader.  When Apple created the smart phone do you think they asked "is there a market?" or do you suppose they thought, if we build this we'll create a market.  The latter is the thought process of a leader.  

2. What would it look like?  I don't know, maybe we could ask https://letgrow.org/our-mission/ for advice or maybe just pick up an old BSA handbook.

3. Do I anticipate Mom signing their kid up?  See 2 above.  They are signing up and being challenged to let their kids do stuff alone.

4. What are the expected outcomes?  Character, Leadership, and Citizenship development.

5. How it came to be?  This is interesting question.  The world is safer now than it ever has been yet youth serving organizations, and society in general, are caught up in a desperate race away from living to just existing in safe spaces.  As Mike Rowe suggested in his blog, the world needs BSA now more than ever.  Unfortunately, we've accepted the incorrect argument that kids are incapable of doing anything without adult supervision.

6. The authorities in people's lives.  This is where the BSA could differentiate itself from the crowd on nanny state nonsense.  It requires courage and integrity.  Unlike many organizations we get an audience every year with the nation's elected leaders.  We should be in their ear every year telling them to stop the stupidity because they are destroying our society.  Of course that would require courage and integrity from politicians.  Sigh.

I had a B-School professor that always scoffed at companies that occupied the squishy middle, taking whatever market share came their way.  He was a big proponent of differentiation.  The US is currently full of fearful parents raising timid children.  We have a choice, submit to the mediocrity they desire, or differentiate ourselves.

This story from Reason is a good read.  About half way through you'll find a really nice description of the patrol method. We should consider using it.  @ParkMan's suggestions would be a good place to start.

As for how it goes with my kid, let me tell you a story.  My son is autistic.  He didn't learn to ride a bike until he was in late grade school.  When he did learn he kept asking to ride more and more.  After we got comfortable with his skill and ability to handle situations, we let him strike out on the country roads around our home.  One day he missed a turn coming home and got lost.  When he realized he was lost he found a safe looking country home (after bypassing a couple he didn't like the looks of and getting off his bike to walk because he ended up on a busier highway), knocked on the door, asked if he could use the phone, and called for a pick up.  He was upset, his mother and I were panicked.  But, when it was all said and done, he realized he could handle a difficult situation.  If we had coddled him the way society demands he'd have never learned that lesson.  It also happens to be the moment we got him a cell phone, you know, like the kids in the dropping story.  

The world needs courageous people to say no to the zeitgeist.  The BSA can be a leaders or accept whatever crumbs fall to the squishy indistinguishable mediocre middle. 

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3 hours ago, walk in the woods said:

The world is safer now than it ever has been yet youth serving organizations, and society in general, are caught up in a desperate race away from living to just existing in safe spaces.  As Mike Rowe suggested in his blog, the world needs BSA now more than ever.  Unfortunately, we've accepted the incorrect argument that kids are incapable of doing anything without adult supervision.

The larger reason for this is the litigiousness of modern society, and has little to do with safety.  While I think many kids would benefit from a well-designed program during which they go out in the woods without direct adult supervision, it would only take one broken leg before the lawsuits start.  

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23 minutes ago, SteveMM said:

 

The larger reason for this is the litigiousness of modern society, and has little to do with safety.  While I think many kids would benefit from a well-designed program during which they go out in the woods without direct adult supervision, it would only take one broken leg before the lawsuits start.  

So how does adult supervision prevent the lawsuit?  You're an adult, scouts are hiking in front of you, one stumbles and breaks his leg.  If a parent is litigious are they not going to sue anyway?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating for complete end to adult supervision.  But, the way things are now, I can't send a small group of 17 year old Eagle Scouts out geocaching in a 300 acre city park without 2 over 21 YPT trained adults tagging along.  That's just stupid.

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I think this discussion, in the general sense, has not moved in years. On the one hand there's a possibility of kids getting hurt and on the other there's a loss of growing up. It's been stuck there.

First of all, I think quantifying the risks and benefits might move things forward. Maybe the BSA has specific reports of scouts getting hurt when left on their own but we don't know how many and what the severity is. On the other side, there is no quantifiable information on the benefits. The entire discussion is

Someone mentioned child abduction. How many scouts have been abducted by parents from a campout? Is it any? is it five out of the million scouts in the past 10 years? What number is reasonable? Roughly half of kids have gone through their parents divorce. I don't knot the percentage of ugly divorces but I've seen the results in kids that are totally messed up from it. Maybe these kids could benefit from the self confidence of camping on their own.

Another aspect of risk vs benefit is comparing the scenario of no parents to untrained parents. The BSA is really adamant about having two adults around on a campout and yet a few weeks ago a bunch of parents had scouts make canoes from pvc tubing and Tyvek and take it on moving water. Moving water is one of those things the BSA requires certification for and camping is not. In the canoe incident that troop was really lucky some scout didn't get caught in a strainer.

This brings up the topic of training. I'm all for good training. Rather than say no, you can't do anything, I'd rather see training that would allow scouters to take scouts, or let them go on their own, into different challenges. Challenges are one of those unmentioned methods, much like having fun, that should not be ignored for the sake of making it simple to reduce risk. The old saying don't throw the baby out with the bath water applies here. The BSA does seem to jump first to "not allowed" rather than "allowed if trained." If the risk of un trained scouters is too high to allow an activity then how about trained scouters to allow it rather than just denying it. The model for training is already in place and for the most part works well. Let's explore that route.

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25 minutes ago, walk in the woods said:

So how does adult supervision prevent the lawsuit?  You're an adult, scouts are hiking in front of you, one stumbles and breaks his leg.  If a parent is litigious are they not going to sue anyway?

I'm not a lawyer and I didn't stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but I'm thinking that if BSA can prove that it made all reasonable attempts to create a "safe" atmosphere, then the lawsuit would be dismissed.  However, with an adult not present, that goes out the window because the litigious types would see that as not a safe atmosphere.

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What's most sad is we're here debating what level of supervision Scouts need, there's a post on one of the Facebook groups where people are adamant that leaders must sit in the same section of an airplane to properly comply with YPT.

It's a sad state when people think they need to be within 3 feet of their Scouts at all times.

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22 hours ago, Pale Horse said:

It's a sad state when people think they need to be within 3 feet of their Scouts at all times.

Scouts smell. Do not sit within 3 ft of them unless your stink is more powerful. 

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I actually proposed something like this to some other parents on 7/20 and it was a resounding no.  Only one parent wasn't appalled by the idea.  The one parent was in the 4H as a youth he said they did something like this where they rode them around blind folded and dropped them off in a valley and the adults went up on top of the mountain and observed them from there.    The youth didn't know they were up there.    I proposed that we reserve 2 campsites in our council camp about 2 sites away from each other ( no mountains in Florida :()  We could be close enough to hear if something went wrong but out of eyesight.   Just proposed that they knew we were at the camp but not sure where.   But we would leave them a walkie talkie if needed and hopefully get the campsite nearest the open area where the first aid is and camp master.     Other parents were worried how the boys would do.  Said they were too young for it and would freak out.  I sort of see it as most of our troop is 12 year old's.     Maybe we can try something like this in a couple years when the troop is a little older and more sure of their skills.   But I almost want to force them to use the patrol method and not be reliant on adults being around to help or defuse a situation.   They will need to navigate an orienteering course to retrieve their food and work together to prepare the meals in a true patrol method.  

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