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Jameson76

Webelos 3 syndrone

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Are any other units seeing the Web III syndrone as you have Webelos come visiting troops?  We had the some come visit, the parents wanted assurances that their den (patrol??) would be kept together and "allowed" to progress together.  They have been friends since whenever blah blah blah

We had a conversation that in our unit we roll the new Scouts into the patrols, this helps them become part of the troop and function within the troop.  As they work with the more experienced Scouts they will learn Scouting Skills, group dynamics, etc etc.  We explained that while they will work with their patrol, they will be on outings with the troop, so they can be with their current friends, they can hang their hammocks together, etc. 

Also I made the comment that many boys who are close friends in 5th grade may not be as inseparable by 7th or 8th grade and time in middle school.  Expanding their ability to interact outside their close friend group is a positive trait.  Not sure my input was believed.

When we discussed that Scouts move through the ranks at their own pace, and not as a group they wanted to know who monitors their advancement progress.  We explained that the troop has many resources to assist and we are there as needed, but each Scout moves at their pace and is responsible for their own progress.  They explained that another unit would keep their Webelos den together as a patrol and work with them to make sure they advance, up to and including Eagle Scout.  Our feedback was that our main emphasis was to have Scouts plan and attend the outings, to have fun, to have challenging rewarding activities, and to have personal growth.  Advancement comes as a result of these activities and does not drive the activities.  We noted that we have a good number of Eagle Scouts annually (maybe 35% of the ones in the district) because we have an environment that keeps older Scouts engaged and active.

This is not the first group of families to express this...was wondering if other units were seeing this.  "Can you mold your program to what I need?"

Edited by Jameson76

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That was fairly typical even back in 1995.

We stuck to our guns with our program and eventually the reputation was our marketing tool. But in the leaner days before the reputation, the Webelos watching our scouts in action was the sell. For some reason, most troops change their troop program to a Webelos recruiting visit program, while we just keep doing our troop program with the Webelos in tow. The Webelos liked what they saw and took the risk. We went from roughly 20 scouts to 100 scouts in about 7 years. And that was loosing at least that many from rocky starts. 

Boys like adventure, adults like Eagle. If the scouts have any vote in where they go, than adventure will win.

That doesn't mean the adults need to have a good response to the adults questions. There is a plan to developing character from adventure and the adults need to be able to explain that plan. 

Barry

Edited by Eagledad
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Why not just tell them that the boys will start as a group and it will be up to them if they want it to stay that way.

Explain that the boys choose their own patrols - so if they want to remain as a group, just choose to stay together as a patrol.  Explain that advancement is at their own pace and you'd be happy if the boys all helped each other and advanced at a similar pace.

Of course, we all know that once in the troop, friendships will change and interest levels will vary.  But, as parents of a den that's been together for years, they don't see that yet.  They are more worried that you're going to force the group to split up.  Explain that this isn't the case and that as a Scout led troop you'll do no such thing.

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19 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

Why not just tell them that the boys will start as a group and it will be up to them if they want it to stay that way.

Explain that the boys choose their own patrols - so if they want to remain as a group, just choose to stay together as a patrol.  Explain that advancement is at their own pace and you'd be happy if the boys all helped each other and advanced at a similar pace.

Of course, we all know that once in the troop, friendships will change and interest levels will vary.  But, as parents of a den that's been together for years, they don't see that yet.  They are more worried that you're going to force the group to split up.  Explain that this isn't the case and that as a Scout led troop you'll do no such thing.

Funny part is we sort of do that.  When the Webelos cross over in the spring they have a new scout program April and May.  Then summer camps, when we start back to regular meetings in August they are rolled into the existing patrols.  For our troop we have found success in keeping a set number of patrols then add new Scouts to these as needed as they older Scouts age out.  That works for us and provides continuity and encourages the older and more experienced Scouts to actually work with the new Scouts.

They sort of wanted a guarantee of keeping them together, making sure they were lockstep.  One parent in particular want to know when their Scout would be at X rank and what our "plan" was for advancement.  Also wanted to know what specific requirements would be worked on at which outings so they could plan accordingly.  I got the deer in headlights look from them as we explained that outings were not for advancement, they were for fun and adventure.  IF a Scout needed to work on something, he certainly could, but that was up to him. 

She asked if we "allowed" a Scout to go for a few years and not advance a rank...we said yep.  We don't monitor.  You can lead a Scout to an outing, but you can't make him advance.

Not sure she appreciated the humor.  We explained there were many good units in the area.

Edited by Jameson76

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Our roundtable this month focused on Webelos to Scout transitions. One recommendation was to have an Assistant Scoutmaster visit Webelos 1 dens in the area for parent information meetings and making sure the den leader knows how Scouts, BSA runs and where to find information on the program.

 

Will it work? idunno.

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Parkman is certain right, I was responding more to your philosophical discussion of advancement vs Patrol Method and fun. You are responding the same as we did, and I will say that you  might loose a few scouts when the parents don't see their expectations happening fast enough. We had a parent pull their son when I wouldn't "Place" their son in the PL position. We lost a few scouts to Eagle hungry parents. I say parents, because the scouts were happy with the program. 

Ironically, our troop was 2nd with the average number of Eagles in the district per year. That was to a well known Eagle Factory Troop three times our size. But, we had more scouts 14 and older, which wasn't lost on Council. If a scout is having fun and hanging around in a fairly active program, they almost can't help walking away as an Eagle. But, that kind of program requires faith and trust. Parents want a written process that can be tracked. Character growth can't be controlled in a process or tracked.

Barry

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We do make clear (usually in an aside meeting with the parents while the Webelos are doing activities with the boys) that we leave patrol assignments up to the boys. We try to keep cross-overs together for a couple months while a troop guide shows them in basics and we get them to attend a couple of campouts. During this time they may elect a PL and demonstrate that they are a cohesive patrol. But, just as often, a few of them tell us that they think they would like to be in an established patrol. Based on their wishes and the observation of the TG, the PLC decides how to configure things.

I also make clear that I have seen none of this impact advancement. In fact, a patrol of crossovers who stick together often do not advance as quickly because the scouts aren't drawn into some of the physical challenges as quickly. Simple personal example: I wasn't much into fitness, but the scout who recruited me (a neighbor) was two years older and had an exersize bar in a doorway at his house. He made sure when I stopped his house, I tried a few pull ups, then he figured out where at my house I could practice. I went from 0 to 10 in a month! Another older scout taught me how to connect a bat with a baseball!

All of my friends my age were too busy racing away from me to make that happen. In fact, most of them found themselves too busy for scouts at all!

I then point out to parents that the scouts who I've seen quit throughout our district -- not just our troop -- have typically been the ones who were pushed on an advancement track and got fed up. Nobody likes to be a part in a factory.

I remind everyone that becoming a First Class scout is hard. Our goal is to get every scout that far in 1 to 5 years!

But, none of that will convince a parent. The only thing that may is

  1. the SPL or/and JASMs introducing themselves personally to each Webelos' parent, and
  2. the PLs, DCs, Guides, and Instructors personally teaching their scout a skill.

This will get the observant, advancement-centered, mom thinking, "I wonder if my son/daughter could be assigned to that scout's patrol?"

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8 minutes ago, PinkPajamas said:

Our roundtable this month focused on Webelos to Scout transitions. One recommendation was to have an Assistant Scoutmaster visit Webelos 1 dens in the area for parent information meetings and making sure the den leader knows how Scouts, BSA runs and where to find information on the program.

 

Will it work? idunno.

I started doing a Webelos/Troops acquaintance coffee gathering each Fall just to get the troops to themselves to the Webelos leaders. We gave everyone calling sheets so the Webelos leaders had number for when they were ready to visit. But, the visit was really intended to get the lesser experienced mostly female Webelos leaders comfortable with the more experienced mostly male intimidating Troop leaders. It was very successful. Leave it to free cookies, donuts and coffee to get adults standing around for an hour to talk. 

Barry

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53 minutes ago, Jameson76 said:

Funny part is we sort of do that.  When the Webelos cross over in the spring they have a new scout program April and May.  Then summer camps, when we start back to regular meetings in August they are rolled into the existing patrols.  For our troop we have found success in keeping a set number of patrols then add new Scouts to these as needed as they older Scouts age out.  That works for us and provides continuity and encourages the older and more experienced Scouts to actually work with the new Scouts.

They sort of wanted a guarantee of keeping them together, making sure they were lockstep.  One parent in particular want to know when their Scout would be at X rank and what our "plan" was for advancement.  Also wanted to know what specific requirements would be worked on at which outings so they could plan accordingly.  I got the deer in headlights look from them as we explained that outings were not for advancement, they were for fun and adventure.  IF a Scout needed to work on something, he certainly could, but that was up to him. 

She asked if we "allowed" a Scout to go for a few years and not advance a rank...we said yep.  We don't monitor.  You can lead a Scout to an outing, but you can't make him advance.

Not sure she appreciated the humor.  We explained there were many good units in the area.

Wow, we just always told the parents that rank advancement in Boy Scouts was an individual thing, and that there was no plan. Yes,  the ASMs would individually talk to scouts, and might even help them plan out their next rank, but there was no overall plan, other than a campout every month, and a meeting every week (at the time, we met every Monday except for the Monday between Christmas and New years (or both if those holidays occurred on Monday) and the week of summer camp.  Rank requirements were done at every campout, the Scouts are responsible for doing them.  Scouts could ask an ASM to sign off on requirements on the great majority of meetings. I would have reassured her that we don't kick out Scouts for non-advancement, so we allow them to go for as long as they want without rank advancement.  

Edited by perdidochas

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Sons previous troop was exactly as you describe, and had evolved to that starting in about the few years before he joined it.  Patrols are kept together, and touted as "they are all going to be the group of friends they will have long after their time in scouting is over".  Well, except for the kids who quit because they just weren't friends with their patrol mates after a time, but were not given an option to move to another patrol.  Many of those kids who left had just grown apart from the other kids, there wasn't any actual animosity.  A few went on to go to other troops, but sadly, many just did not.  The advancement push was OK for someone like my son, who was generally just driven to begin with, so the opportunities were there, and he took advantage of them.  But, as he saw other kids getting pushed through advancement that couldn't fry an egg let alone boil water, or tie their own shoes let alone a bowline, it began to feel like a factory as described.  As he looked at his own path, he was an Eagle, did time in leadership positions, but loved concept of being camp staffer and OA.  Discussion with me was to just not participate with the troop anymore, or quit scouting altogether.  I urged him to consider there was the other option of going to another troop, or join a Crew.  Something to keep him interested, and have the opportunity for scouting to be fun again and have his time of "responsibility" with camp staff and OA, but that it was OK to have an outlet to just have fun too.  

Some parents in current troop like to mutter about their kid isn't advancing quickly.  Usually I take that as an opportunity as CC to sit with them and look at their kids book.  I flip through and show them that son has done X, Y, and Z, but hasn't asked anyone to sign, and that is where they as parent can play a role.  Talk to their kid, encourage them to get recognition when they have earned it.  There is nothing wrong with them helping their son as a cheerleader, but I can't have them bringing their kids book themselves and asking for signatures.  I also try to include parents on BOR for other scouts.  I don't require that only committee members be on BORs, so that more parents can experience what goes on in a scouts mind about advancement.  The BORs I run I don't stick to a script, I don't go with the "if there was one MB that you would like to do", or "what activities would you like to see the troop do"- frankly, they already have the avenue to express that.  I use the BOR to talk to them about their ultimate goals - in scouting and in life- and help them set some personal goals on their next rank.    

 

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I've never heard of parents asking for lock step advancement. Usually, when we mention that it's up to the scouts to decide their pace, the parents think that's really great. Responsibility! At last!

I wonder how much of wanting the cub model is because the parents don't understand the relationship between aims and methods. To be honest, the message the scouts typically get from recognition at COH's is that advancement is what it's all about. The scout and his parents come up to the front, does the whole pin and patch exchange dance, gets photographed, hugs around, everyone applauds. That's the dopamine moment that the adults create so that's what scouts must be about, right? I hate to admit but we spend a lot more time recognizing check marks than, say, helping their patrol mates. So I'm not all that surprised that a group of type A parents want to continue that.

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So true.  Our troop structure is slated to change at our next COH.  The boys will divide themselves into patrols, hopefully by identifying interests (and friendships).  This was definitely a parent topic at a Webelos night.  Our SM explained the patrol method and how the boys will form their own patrols in the near future.  And why it was so important that they be allowed to do this.

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