Jump to content
RainShine

standards for Scouts

Recommended Posts

I become Scoutmaster very soon. The troop is a bit of a fixer-upper, more about that another time.

Since my son and I crossed over I've been observing. We have very few older Scouts currently. Those older fellows, except one, have a slovenly appearance (the one, already Eagle, is a sharp, remarkable young man, and hopefully someday will be president of the United States.) They come slouching in, often late, never in uniform, and evidently with someplace better to be. Last night the one guy was wearing what I can only perceive as being pajama bottoms. Plaid pajama bottoms and a hoodie. If they are good w the skills I wouldn't know it because they don't go on outings except summer camp. I see no Scout spirit. And btw I never see their parents.

Two are pursuing Eagle. I bet they think this is a troop that will accommodate them, because, well, we have in the past. The others, well I don't know why they are there. But all of them are a drag on the system.

I'm in real good with all the younger Scouts. I've been to their houses and met their families. Most are enthusiastic and wish to do well. I see their parents at meetings and outings. But a couple have now started to "forget" to wear their uniform.

Once installed as SM, I intend to go on a listening tour with the older Scouts, although I'm not sure if they will give me five minutes of their time.

I've half a mind to tell them to shape up or ship out. Please advise.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It happens with my troop also. Highschool brings about other commitments and scouts usually goes by the wayside. Some may hang around just enough to finish their eagle. Unfortunately after 1st class, there's no requirements in the ranks that require them to go on outings. Not to mention balancing any activity in high school with scouts is extremely hard. My kid is in drama club and they practice 6 days a week for the entire school season. If they are in a sport, it's even worse. Also you have to realize that by this point, they've been in scouts for 9 to 12 years and scouts is year round, it never stops. They may just be losing interest. It's hard to hold interest I've seen. There's always a new crop of scouts coming into the troop that run around, fool around, don't listen, etc...The older boys in our troop have not been able to distinguish between leading/teaching vs babysitting..They all forget how they were when they came into the troop.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I tell every new Scoutmaster with plans for changing the current culture to support two programs. The young scout program where your change will come from, and the older scout program that basically continues the same program. The human nature of youth 14 and older DON"T LIKE CHANGE" and I have yet to meet a Scoutmaster who successfully converted their older scouts to the new program. Bend a little maybe. Push as much as your willing to tolerate, but don't let the frustration interrupt working the younger scouts. Don't die on this hill, it's not worth it. Help them with their Eagle as much as they ask, but step back otherwise. 

Barry

  • Upvote 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
54 minutes ago, RainShine said:

... I've half a mind to tell them to shape up or ship out. Please advise. ...

Forget talk of shipping out. Tell them that you're betting they'll want to shape up. If that means hanging their shirts and pants in a closet in the scout house so they can change the moment they arrive, so be it. You want them to be the winning patrol upon uniform inspection. Period. And the most important part of their uniform: their smile. Now, in your post you mentioned a lot of reasons why you wanted this: you're bothered, younger kids getting sloppy, "drag on the system," etc ... Those are the wrong reasons. (Don't repeat those out loud. And if your scouts are reading this, let them know that you are working on an attitude change.) The only reason that you want these boys to look sharp is this: real men take pride in their work and even face drudgery with a sharp appearance and a smile. It has nothing to do with what you get out of the job, it has everything to do with being prepared to give others your best -- even if they don't deserve it.

I agree with @Eagledad that you basically have two troops. The older half might not deliver everything you expect. They may never win uniform inspection. But raise the bar on them, and be happy at any stretching you see from them.

Your listening tour is basically a set of meet-the-SM conferences. Not a bad idea. Be positive, and you'll succeed.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, Eagledad said:

The human nature of youth 14 and older DON"T LIKE CHANGE"

Part of that is having mush for brains, and I don't mean that in a bad way. Everything is changing and they have no idea how they fit in. At the same time, they also think they're the only ones going through this. My guess is the slovenly attitude is just their way of saving face. I was once one of them. ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

""When I was 14, my dad was so dumb I was embarrassed to be seen with him.  When I turned 21, I was amazed at how intelligent the old man had become in just 7 years."

                                                                                                                                              = Mark Twain =

Yep, some kids are like that.   I recommend two troops also.   Let the older Scouts learn from watching the younger ones.   Unless, thru your interviews, you learn some of them are "Instructors".  Then, if they are awarded the patch, they'll need a Uniform to wear it on ! 

When things go right, praise the heck out of'em.  If the tent is set up badly, say "ummm,  maybe if we do this...."   do not chastise, only encourage. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/4/2019 at 11:27 AM, MattR said:

Part of that is having mush for brains, and I don't mean that in a bad way. Everything is changing and they have no idea how they fit in. At the same time, they also think they're the only ones going through this. My guess is the slovenly attitude is just their way of saving face. I was once one of them. ;)

Interestingly there are management concepts for this; once a person goes through puberty, they by nature don't like change. I'm sure there is some primal reason for the resistance, but the solution is to first sell the new idea or change, once there is desire for the change, then there has to be process of teaching the actions for the change along with a positive experience. 

Most Scoutmasters are pretty good salesmen, I think the hiccup comes with teaching and experience. If the SM is trying something new, the change has not been perfected enough for teaching and positive experience. Even knowing all that, my experience was older scouts were happiest with minimal change.  

Barry

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/3/2019 at 10:30 AM, RainShine said:

Those older fellows, except one, have a slovenly appearance (the one, already Eagle, is a sharp, remarkable young man, and hopefully someday will be president of the United States.) They come slouching in, often late, never in uniform, and evidently with someplace better to be. Last night the one guy was wearing what I can only perceive as being pajama bottoms. Plaid pajama bottoms and a hoodie. 

I would encourage you to start with setting expectations about uniforming.  When you become Scoutmaster, make it clear that you expect uniforms to be worn to meetings.  This is a simple act that as Scoutmaster you can easily push for.  When you become Scoutmaster, people will expect some amount of change to occur.  New guy, new rules.  So, take advantage of that.

Of course, start it within the adult team.  At a meeting, let the adults know that you want uniforms to be actively encouraged.  Explain the reason in a way that is similar to what @qwazse did.  You are doing this because taking pride in how they wear the uniform leads to Scouts taking pride in themselves as people.  Don't put it in terms of benefit to the troop - that's irrelevant.  Don't threaten with Scout Spirit rules and preventing people from ranking up.  

Once you explain it to the other adults, then go to the Scouts and their parents.  Explain that this is new and that you'd ask the parents to support and encourage the Scout on this.

After all this - then simply encourage.  If a Scout shows up without the uniform, ask them in a  pointed way.  "Hey Bob, why arn't you wearing your uniform this week? ...  You forgot? ... Please remember it next time."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, ParkMan said:

... Of course, start it within the adult team.  At a meeting, let the adults know that you want uniforms to be actively encouraged.  Explain the reason in a way that is similar to what @qwazse did.  You are doing this because taking pride in how they wear the uniform leads to Scouts taking pride in themselves as people.  Don't put it in terms of benefit to the troop - that's irrelevant.  Don't threaten with Scout Spirit rules and preventing people from ranking up.  

Once you explain it to the other adults, then go to the Scouts and their parents.  Explain that this is new and that you'd ask the parents to support and encourage the Scout on this. ...

Here is where I disagree with @ParkMan, the SM was the only adult who wore a uniform in our troop. The rest showed up in their best work clothes. The ASM who was a coal miner looked pretty rough, but one of the most caring men I had met in scouting. I never saw a committee member in a uniform until my sons joined scouts. Still think it's dumb. Why does an MC need a field uniform? To set off his/her beads?

None of those adults bothering with uniforms, and guess what? I made a point to look sharp every meeting and hang my pants creased in the evening. Shoes polished every Sunday. Inspected patrols every couple of months just like the SPL's before me had done.

You're the only adult who the scout needs for an example of a sharp uniform. You don't need your adults to uniform. It's not their program. You need them to admire your scouts. You need them to be kind to one another. You need them to turn into wallpaper as the scouts run meetings and activities.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi @qwazse,

Sorry - my post was confusing in hindsight.  I am suggesting that the SM enlist adult volunteer support for uniforming - not necessarily that all the adults uniform.  

As Scoutmaster you want adult support for transformative decisions.  Yes, we'd like to think the adult volunteers will support the Scoutmaster, but it's still important for the SM to get folks behind a big decision.  Going to a leaders/committee meeting and having a frank conversation about supporting this decision is helpful.  That helps ensure that word gets around.  It also helps that leaders encourage their own kids to uniform as well.  

Since you brought it up, I'm in favor of adults feeling empowered to uniform.  Scouts notice ASMs and see what they do.  So, if the Scoutmaster is saying "uniforms are important", but the ASMs are out of uniform or poorly uniformed, that's noticed. 

On the other hand, if the adult treasurer, advancement coordinator, committee chair, etc. are uniformed that sets even more examples.  If I were SM, I would ask the ASMs to uniform if possible.  I would encourage the committee members to uniform if so inclined.  We have many adults who show up to meetings in uniform (and most do not have beads).  There are other subtle benefits. 

  • Adults seeing other adults in uniforming encourages volunteering.  
  • It helps committee members feel a closer connection to the troop.
  • It makes it clear to visiting families who they can approach for questions
  • In an era of needing more registered adult supervision, it helps everyone know who the registered adults are.

It's not uncommon to have 10+ adults in uniform our typical troop meetings - more at a COH.

BTW - yes, we get good participation from Scouts wearing uniforms.  We've never needed to do a uniform inspection to encourage that.  We rarely even have to say something to a scout.

Edited by ParkMan
grammer

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×