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Wow, this thread turned to a really good discussion. Of all the badges I earned as a scout, the only one I remember receiving was the First Class Badge. I even remember my parents being there. Pretty cool really. 

I personally don't feel the culture has lost the Honor over 1St Class, I feel that honor was lost from the top. Anyone here feel National has respect for 1st Class?

 But I know boys, and I know that nature drives them to prove themselves. Boys (young men) of the Troop age have and instinct to work and conquer high goals set before them so they feel good about themselves. First Class requirements are a great set of higher bars if they are honored as such. Imagine all your non scout friends knowing that you have the skills for surviving in the woods. 

There is a troop in our area that over the years has earned the respect as one of the best overall troops. They have had their ups and downs like all troops, but a few of my sons best friends were scouts in that troop and they had earned the reputation as some of the best scouts in the district. I knew them well enough to agree. These hand full of scouts always, no mater the weather, always wore class "A" scouts shorts and socks. Our troop combined a Philmont crew with them and my son said they dressed the same on their trek. They are proud of their troops reputation and standing out setting a high example was their way of honoring and living up to that reputation. I'm not sure they realized that their actions also set the higher bar for all the scouts in their troop. What is really amazing about those young men is that they, not the adults, set the higher bar for the whole troop. That troop had set a higher bar for the image of a boy scout that the rest of the scouting community respected and applauded. 

Since the start of my adult scouting experience, I felt I was fighting against National's vision for scouts. Luckily for me, I had the BSA's Vision and Mission Statements to support my personal vision and the Aim and Methods to support how I steered the program. I never felt that National supported personal growth at any age level of the program. I remember how angry I was when National added the Webelos requirement for interviewing a SM. How in the world did that one action contribute toward scout's growth. They weren't concerned about scout growth, they were concerned about membership growth. But all they had to do was look at our growing programs to see that true individual growth was what boys wanted. They just wanted to do something that made them feel good about themselves, and that is what a good scouting program does.

Barry

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27 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

Since the start of my adult scouting experience, I felt I was fighting against National's vision for scouts. Luckily for me, I had the BSA's Vision and Mission Statements to support my personal vision and the Aim and Methods to support how I steered the program. I never felt that National supported personal growth at any age level of the program.

Hi @Eagledad,

At least you weren't up against GSUSA's current vision for scouting.   "Civic action" is the current push, there:  https://www.girlscouts.org/en/about-girl-scouts/girl-scouts-and-civic-engagement/forgirls.html    Goes right along with their current "Journeys" program.

My reaction to the Aims and Methods of BSA, when I first encourtered them,  was that that was the first time I had seen that all so neatly set out and carefully thought through.  Many of those ideas do go right back (in some form) to the early days of scouting and are (historically at least) present in other branches of scouting.  (Citizenship?  yup.   Outdoors?  yup.  Patrols?  yup.   GSUSA had them, at least at one time.)

But the one of the  BSA Methods that I still feel that I don't have a good understanding of is "Personal Growth".   I am still a little fuzzy on what falls under this concept (as opposed to under some of the other methods).   So, Barry,  now that you have mentioned "personal growth",  how would you define this or explain this?   How did you use this method with your scouts?

 

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18 minutes ago, Treflienne said:

... But the one of the  BSA Methods that I still feel that I don't have a good understanding of is "Personal Growth".   I am still a little fuzzy on what falls under this concept (as opposed to under some of the other methods).   So, Barry,  now that you have mentioned "personal growth",  how would you define this or explain this?   How did you use this method with your scouts?

... in my old Boy Scout Handbook, boards of review were called personal growth conferences. That should give us some sense of what is intended by the method.

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6 minutes ago, Treflienne said:

Hi 

But the one of the  BSA Methods that I still feel that I don't have a good understanding of is "Personal Growth".   I am still a little fuzzy on what falls under this concept (as opposed to under some of the other methods).   So, Barry,  now that you have mentioned "personal growth",  how would you define this or explain this?   How did you use this method with your scouts?

 

Good question. I believe BSA documentation states it as something like scouts developing the habit of using the Law and Oath in their future decisions. The theory is that scouts learn the virtues of the Law and Oath by their struggles resulting from past bad decisions. 

I know that is a bit idealistic, but if you as an adult can see a scout change a behavior or process of making a decision as a result of bad decisions, then you are watching personal growth. One very common area I saw personal growth is with new PLs working patrol members, compared to how they worked with them as an experienced PL. Patrol leading is really the first introduction to true leadership if the troop program allows it, and where the leader has to work personally with different personalities to go forward toward goals. More often than not, new patrol leaders run into their bigger conflicts at meal times. Meals are a goal that all members of the patrol want (because they are hungry), but require some team work to accomplish. That is also when tired scouts don't want to participate by cooking or cleaning or simply don't like the food being prepared. Scouts are just cranky when they are hungry. The PL is task to get those cranky hungry undisciplined animals aligned and working toward the common task. They develop their social skills of communication under stress more in those moments than any other part of scouting.

But we must understand that personal growth is personal to each individual scout. I once coached a SM who was very frustrated by a SPL who couldn't do anything right. I asked him, is there anything, ANYTHING?, the SPL has improved from  doing his task. The SM then gave a list of improvements. It was then the SM realized that the kid was doing OK, his expectations where just too high for that scout. And, as it turns out, that scout was really a good leader. It was the SM who had to learn how to work at indidiviual levels. I had to learn it as well.

That's really important because a lot of kids aren't given much indication that they are growing at all. In fact, many kids are told they aren't worthy. I have many stories I would love to tell about shy and learning disabled boys who blossomed in our troop because we didn't hold back expectations on them like they were getting at school and home. The troop was the one place where they were allowed to like themself.

A troop should be made to be a safe place to make mistakes. Experts say that our brains only learn when we make mistakes. The brain doesn't like pain, so it learns to prevent that same pain in the future. But, the instinctive nature of parents is to protect kids from mistakes. Watching our kids make mistakes is painful, so our brains are reacting as well. Troop leaders have to learn how to ignore that urge to prevent scouts making mistakes. Make you troop safe by allowing bad choices so their brains feel the pain. How do we do that you ask, well start by not reacting to mistakes with anger or harsh words. Don't take ANY scouts decisions (good or bad) personal. Let them be the owners.  Accept all mistakes as opportunties for developing better character. If the bad decision requires it, act disappointed. But in most cases, act indifferent and ask how they would choose differently next time.

I used bring a box of Tootsie-roll pops to each campout and set in the middle of camp. The rule was that scouts could have as many pops as they wanted provided they threw away their trash and only eat one roll at a time. If that rule was broke, the box was taken away from the whole troop. And, the adults didn't enforce the rules, the scouts did. One scout told me some months later of how that simple little box of tootsie rolls changed the way he thought about following rules, and other people following the rules. Growth. 

My definition of Personal Growth grew to, "any change a scout makes to better himself as a result of decisions he made as a scout". But, I had to learn to not only recognize personal growth, I also learned how to encourage practice of personal growth. Because each scout is different, we have to try a lot of different ideas to encourage growth. Not all scouts are good leaders, so how to encourage growth in a PL who is just struggling with the responsibility. This, to me, is what scouting is all about for the adults.  And I enjoyed it a lot. 

One last thing. Many, if not most, adult leaders hear how the scouting program encourages character development, but most are at the very least skeptical. However, many parents of new scouts who just returned from summer camp told me that their son came back noticeably more mature than when they left. A weekend is not a lot of time for scouts to make enough decisions to develop and change habits. But a week seems to make a difference for noticeable growth. If the adults allow, scouting really does put scouts in an environment where they want to change toward being a different person. They don't realize it because the changes are subtle, but a couple years of subtle changes add up to person of different character.

Give yourself a little time, and you will start to see the growth. You only need to build the program that the BSA has already laid out.

Barry

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3 hours ago, qwazse said:

... in my old Boy Scout Handbook, boards of review were called personal growth conferences. That should give us some sense of what is intended by the method.

Wasn't this one of the changes implemented during the ISP?  No more Scoutmaster Conferences, in favor of Personal Growth Conferences.  

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30 minutes ago, walk in the woods said:

Wasn't this one of the changes implemented during the ISP?  No more Scoutmaster Conferences, in favor of Personal Growth Conferences.  

Correction, Bill Hilcourt called SMC's personal growth conferences in his 7th edition handbook, as I referenced one year ago. (I can't seem to remember my own quotes!) Boards of Reviews were always called just that. Those with older handbooks, please expound.

It's also worth noting that he called Star, Life, Eagle, and Palms awards not ranks. Again, folks with the full text of earlier and later versions may wish to give us more details.

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3 hours ago, qwazse said:

Correction, Bill Hilcourt called SMC's personal growth conferences in his 7th edition handbook, as I referenced one year ago. (I can't seem to remember my own quotes!) Boards of Reviews were always called just that. Those with older handbooks, please expound.

It's also worth noting that he called Star, Life, Eagle, and Palms awards not ranks. Again, folks with the full text of earlier and later versions may wish to give us more details.

In the eighth edition (1972), they are called "personal growth agreement conferences."  I recall those being frank chats with the SM; the good, the bad and the ugly of your performance as a scout/patrol leader, goal setting, etc.

You were then ready for the board of review.  Tenderfoot - First Class:  grilled by the Troop Leadership Council (SPL and PLs).  The book says a troop committee member may sit in but I don't recall any that did.  TLC quizzed on skills learned/earned to date; re-demonstrate certain skills, detailed uniform inspection, and some think-on-your-feet questions.

Two months active to earn Tenderfoot; three for Second Class; three for First Class.

Star - Eagle board were before the troop committee, according to the handbook.  I recall my Star and Life boards before the troop committee (pleasant experiences compared to the T - FC boards), Eagle board was at district level. 

Edited by desertrat77

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On 1/29/2020 at 12:06 PM, Eagledad said:

. . . My definition of Personal Growth . . .

Thanks,  Barry,  that whole post is very helpful. 

I have been appreciating your taking the time and effort to answer my questions.   Not just this one,  but the previous ones,  also.

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