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Onslow

Scouting in Blighted Communities

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I would like to hear from those who have first hand experience running units in poor rural areas where ignorance is a badge of honor,  families are mostly broken,  most adults are drug users.  Oh, did I mention cliquish because everyone is related.

I'm trying to understand how adult leaders are developed in blighted areas which obviously is a key requirement for administering a unit, particularly in the long term when leadership succession is a given.  I desperately need some tried and tested ideas that work.

Secondly, is trying to organize in such godforsaken places a fool's errand?

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Your language is a bit inflammatory - so not sure you're really serious in this question.

I would believe that in any community - no matter how advantaged or disadvantaged, there are people of character.  I would think your task is to start with them.  Build a program that those people will want to be part of.  Then leverage that core program and expand it to include youth who are disadvantaged.

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10 hours ago, ParkMan said:

Your language is a bit inflammatory - so not sure you're really serious in this question.

I would believe that in any community - no matter how advantaged or disadvantaged, there are people of character.  I would think your task is to start with them.  Build a program that those people will want to be part of.  Then leverage that core program and expand it to include youth who are disadvantaged.

A bit?  Sorry, but as someone who lives part of the year in a very rural area which, if one were being nasty, could be described that way, I would not voluntarily choose to work with someone who had such disdain for those he/she was purportedly trying to help.

Seriously, OP, you need to do a LOT of self-reflection before trying to lead anyone.

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11 hours ago, Onslow said:

I would like to hear from those who have first hand experience running units in poor rural areas where ignorance is a badge of honor,  families are mostly broken,  most adults are drug users.  Oh, did I mention cliquish because everyone is related.

I'm trying to understand how adult leaders are developed in blighted areas which obviously is a key requirement for administering a unit, particularly in the long term when leadership succession is a given.  I desperately need some tried and tested ideas that work.

Secondly, is trying to organize in such godforsaken places a fool's errand?

First, don't pigeon hole those of us that live in these areas. Those of us that are active in the program bring a lot of skill sets into Scouting not found in Urban America (I know teenagers who are better and safer with chain saws then Council Rangers). A number of my "bubba" friends have degrees from  Old Dominion, William and Mary, James Madison and Virginia Tech and yes, with outsiders we do play on their perceptions at times. My best advice is to just be flexable,  open and willing to be a part of this community.  The reality is, you will be frustrated, and you will have to deal with setbacks. But, that is part of the learning curve that will eventually make you more successful.

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A fool's errand?  Of course it is. So when has that ever stopped us?

I've been a part of such an attempt twice, once in a poor part of Maryland (tobacco fields and 20 year old pickups), once in a urban setting where ankle monitors on the scouts were not uncommon. 

From my very limited experience 

1-  you can NOT help someone who does not want to be helped. All you can do is make sure they know the offer is there.

2- parents have more influence than a scout leader.

3- there are some who are looking for a way out, something better. Even if they try to hide it in order to fit in or act tough .  These are the kids you are looking for.  The few who make it worth the stress and the effort. 

4- start with the churches.

 

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Okay, on reflection, my post about not willingly working with the OP wasn't very scout-like. 

Rural has it own set of strengths, you need to look for those.  My neighbor showed me how to gut a deer (Wilderness Survival?).  His nephew - yes, many of the people in the town are related - showed me how to make an excellent jerky and mix meats for hot dogs (Cooking?).  This summer/fall, we joined a friend in harvesting her garden and canning (Gardening). 

How to develop leaders?  The point here is that regardless of where in the world you are, there are going to be folks who can have a positive impact on a scout.  It's up to you to find those strengths in people and outwardly recognize them.  Catch more flies with honey, yes?

Edited by swilliams
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27 minutes ago, swilliams said:

Okay, on reflection, my post about not willingly working with the OP wasn't very scout-like. 

Rural has it own set of strengths, you need to look for those.  My neighbor showed me how to gut a deer (Wilderness Survival?).  His nephew - yes, many of the people in the town are related - showed me how to make an excellent jerky and mix meats for hot dogs (Cooking?).  This summer/fall, we joined a friend in harvesting her garden and canning (Gardening). 

How to develop leaders?  The point here is that regardless of where in the world you are, there are going to be folks who can have a positive impact on a scout.  It's up to you to find those strengths in people and outwardly recognize them.  Catch more flies with honey, yes?

Your response was on point.  I wouldn't let OP within a country mile of boys I cared about.  The OP was obnoxious, arrogant, and typical of blue bubble elitest mentality.  Thanks but we don't need jerks with savior complexes.

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6 hours ago, Onslow said:

I am dead serious, and a bit terrified .

Ok - gotcha.  Can you please provide some additional context here?

How are you faced with this question?  Are you an existing unit volunteer who is struggling to make it work?  Are you exploring the idea of starting a new program?  Do you currently live in an area like this? 

I get the impression that you are either very frustrated or simply unhappy about challenges of the area you live in.  Any particular context you can add here?

Thanks!

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I think this is a reaction to the present political drama with president because I’ve seen a couple of anti rural stories this week using the same language. The bigoted tone is the result of rural communities unchanging support for the president. 

Barry

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The  "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" movie "Deliverance" predates the current constitutional crisis by some decades. 

One might recall how President Carter was ragged on by the Eastern and Western elites of his own party until, in his old age, he became a leading attacker of Bush the Younger.

One would think that if working with certain people is terrifying, you would simply not do it.  

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Another factor is Darwinian - those that can escape do so, leaving those who cannot.  Read  Night Comes to the Cumberlands: A Biography of a Depressed Area.

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