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swilliams

Throw in the Towel on Advancement for Now?

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I'm fighting the dreaded 'scouting burnout' right now.  From the very beginning of our shutdown, I've been trying to find ways to keep scouts engaged in an actual way, not a virtual way.  Never before have things felt so difficult.  It's like talking to the wind.  Initial ideas were shot down.  My husband (who is now an ASM!) thinks it's because I was too far ahead of the curve: that no one quite realized just how long we were going to be without regular meetings.  Ok, perhaps.

Other ideas were either ignored, or in the case of one committee member, given a thousand reasons why we couldn't do them until everyone got so tired of it that they said no just to end the discussion.

Here we are weeks later, and those same ideas have been given the go-ahead.  Now the problem I'm having now is that I can't get any of the parents to respond.  Not one.  Not even a reply email saying they have no interest.  One of the two remaining requirements our Tenderfoot scouts need is the four weeks of physical fitness.  Twice, I've emailed a chart for the scouts to keep their log, I've sent out two reminders (trying not to email more than once every couple weeks), and recently I've issued "challenges" with unique activities that scouts can try.  Maybe parents are just too overwhelmed/sick of working with their kids/ready to be committed to the insane asylum?

Just venting, mostly, but if anyone else has been having difficulty and has found any solutions, I'd love to hear them. I'm so concerned we're going to lose half our scouts during this time.

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I sympathize. 

Why was the troop committee involved in a programming issue which the PLC is in charge of, and the SM advises?

Also, are you the SM now, or still troop committee.

SM should be contacting the PLC about this and putting the responsibility on them. It is their troop, their responsibility.

In talking to friends, I am finding that some of the adult-led troops are having the same issue you are facing. Adults have done everything for the Scouts, and now that they do not have the time for organizing online meetings, it is not happening.

But it can be turned around.

Neither the Scouts nor the adults in my troop were too keen on doing online meetings. We are an active, outdoor troop that had 3 camp outs cancelled so far due to COVID-19. But when it was realized that we are going to be out of action for a while, SM talked to SPL, and they got it up and running. Grant you, we are doing the "paperpushing" MBs (Family Life and Personal Finance), but it is up and running.

I'm afraid that even when things get lifted here, we will lose a few Scouts for a while. Several have parents who are immunosuppressed, and COVID-19 could be lethal if caught.

 

Good luck.

 

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One source of burn-out is asking adults to do a scout's job ...

1 hour ago, swilliams said:

...  One of the two remaining requirements our Tenderfoot scouts need is the four weeks of physical fitness.  Twice, I've emailed a chart for the scouts to keep their log, I've sent out two reminders (trying not to email more than once every couple weeks), and recently I've issued "challenges" with unique activities that scouts can try.  Maybe parents are just too overwhelmed/sick of working with their kids/ready to be committed to the insane asylum?  ...

I have no idea why we think telling a parent how a scout can do a requirement helps the scout in any way. There's a handbook. Read it. Do what it says. That's all I said ... once. (in another thread, I posted the contents.) From there it's the SPL/PL's responsibility to show leadership. If they don't, come summer camp (as ASM) I'll be asking them why some of their patrol members aren't even Tenderfoot yet. (I'll do it politely, because we leaders are guests of the patrols for dinner. I'm not doing anything to mess with that gravy train!)

The pandemic will not be an excuse. Lack of internet will not be excuse. Heck, if the phones get cut off, that will not be an excuse. And by all that is right and holy, parents not getting an E-mail will not be an excuse.

  • Either they are Tenderfoot scouts or they are not. If they are, good. Time to plan for the next rank. 
  • If they are not, time to tell them (not their parents) to get cracking. 

If some MC whines about us losing JTE points (which, by the way, none have for the past 8 years), I will say that's proof of a great SM.

Our troop? The boys evidently finally asked the SM to hold a zoom meeting to discuss O/A. We'll have one tonight. Will we have another one? i dunno, that's between the SM and the PLC. I sent one blurb out that camp will be rough if the patrols aren't getting in shape. It's now up to the boys to figure it out.

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Advancement is like a suntan Something you get naturally whilst having fun in the outdoors. Let the scouts drive thier own advancement, help the SM and SPL provide scout skills training in a fun  virtual way. 

Our Zoom meetings have been successful 5 total so far with 80% in attendance. I stole about 50 ideas from other troops, created a list and let the PLC pick the ones the wants, modify any ideas, create thier own etc. I see no reason why you couldn't create a similiar list and share with SM/SPL.

Example: Physical fitness contest - each zoom meeting all scouts do as many pushups as possible. After 4 weeks those that increae the most wins a prize.

Example: Show how to build a cardboard sit and reach box , everyone comes to the meeting with the materials needed and build the box live

Example: if you live in the same town, provide a 1 mile course and have each scout run it and then 4 week later run again.

If you make this fun Tenderfoot can just happen, if you make this like a job it will be ignored.

 

Good luck and keep helping your scouts.

 

 

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, swilliams said:

My husband (who is now an ASM!) thinks it's because I was too far ahead of the curve: that no one quite realized just how long we were going to be without regular meetings.  Ok, perhaps.

I agree with your husband. Also, the stress of this epidemic is hitting people differently. I think many parents are just pushing aside things that they don't see as critical and for some, that's scouts.

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Posted (edited)

@swilliams, thank you for all you are doing for scouting. 

The posts previous to mine are right on the money:  the scouts should figure things out for themselves and develop self motivation.  

Even if advancement numbers don't meet "the metric" that's okay.  The few scouts that are recognized at the court of honor will make the event all the more special.  They showed initiative, which may in turn inspire some of their peers sitting in the audience. 

As a scout who spent a solid year stalled out at Tenderfoot, I recall seeing a JASM being presented his Eagle medal.  The ceremony wasn't much by today's standards.  The medal was pinned on at the end of a normally scheduled troop court of honor.  They lowered the lights, had a few special words, pinned the Eagle, presented Mom her pin (no mentor or dad pins back then), round of applause, let's have some cake, service patrol put away the chairs, etc.  Five minutes tops, but it was powerful and made quite an impression on me.  I respected this JASM, so I decided the next day to crack the spine on my scout handbook and actually read it.  It generated a new perspective for me.

Edited by desertrat77
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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, swilliams said:

Now the problem I'm having now is that I can't get any of the parents to respond.  Not one.  Not even a reply email saying they have no interest. 

I think this is not only a BSA issue, but a societal one as well.   Information is sent, yet there is no feedback from the recipient whatsoever.   No courtesy of a return email, text or phone call.  Yet these are usually the same parents that are glued to their mobile phones.  They spend a lot of time communicating, but not with the scout leaders that are trying to provide programming for their kids.  Tell me to jump in a lake, get lost, etc., but at least send a reply!

Edited by desertrat77
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51 minutes ago, desertrat77 said:

I think this is not only a BSA issue, but a societal one as well.   Information is sent, yet there is no feedback from the recipient whatsoever.   No courtesy of a return email, text or phone call.  Yet these are usually the same parents that are glued to their mobile phones.  They spend a lot of time communicating, but not with the scout leaders that are trying to provide programming for their kids.  Tell me to jump in a lake, get lost, etc., but at least send a reply!

I remembered thinking this 12 years ago with my crew: "These folks now have tech that Star Trek would covet.* But they can't communicate any better than if they had semaphore flags."

*I have a flip phone for lots of reasons. One is in hopes that someday I'll have a friend named Scottie.

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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

I sympathize. 

Why was the troop committee involved in a programming issue which the PLC is in charge of, and the SM advises?

Also, are you the SM now, or still troop committee.

SM should be contacting the PLC about this and putting the responsibility on them. It is their troop, their responsibility.

In talking to friends, I am finding that some of the adult-led troops are having the same issue you are facing. Adults have done everything for the Scouts, and now that they do not have the time for organizing online meetings, it is not happening.

But it can be turned around.

Neither the Scouts nor the adults in my troop were too keen on doing online meetings. We are an active, outdoor troop that had 3 camp outs cancelled so far due to COVID-19. But when it was realized that we are going to be out of action for a while, SM talked to SPL, and they got it up and running. Grant you, we are doing the "paperpushing" MBs (Family Life and Personal Finance), but it is up and running.

I'm afraid that even when things get lifted here, we will lose a few Scouts for a while. Several have parents who are immunosuppressed, and COVID-19 could be lethal if caught.

 

Good luck.

 

Funny how sometimes vital stuff gets left out of my posts!!  I'm not so good at communicating myself much of the time.  

I'm committee, and advancement chair (for the troop, anyway).  Our Scoutmaster was appointed to head the Covid-19 testing site at Kean University, so he's working six days a week, 12-14 hour days, and has turned things over to everyone else right now.  Only one or two of our experienced ASM's is still active - the others have scouts who have either made Eagle and/or are finalizing their projects - and of those two, one is in pharmaceutical research.  So, yeah.  

The "main" ASM asked everyone for ideas, which is how/why my original ideas were given the go-ahead.  The ASPL of Advancement is... the son of the Scoutmaster, who isn't available.  This scout has done a good job of managing the weekly meetings.  He and I did have a conversation where he said it was tough for him to go over reports.  (The way we had being doing things, I would run reports from Troopmaster that showed which scouts needed which requirements,  then left it up to the SPL and ASPL of Advancement to determine what, if anything, they wanted to work on.)  Because of that, rather than giving him reports to look at, I'm highlighting things that are needed for those scouts who are close to ranking up, and he's taking care of what he can.  For example, he has a Troop guide who is going to work on sheet-bend knot via Zoom with the aforementioned Tenderfoot scouts tomorrow night.

I do feel for these kids; it's been really rough for some of them, and as much as we're trying to continue with boy-led, it seems they need some help right now.  We have one scout who has been coming up with some great ideas, and the SPL is going to implement a couple of them in upcoming Zoom meetings.  A couple of the leaders who are merit badge counselors are doing two meetings.  Advancement has taken a bit of a backseat, which is fine, but we're a troop that doesn't push the scouts to rank up.  The scouts who are Tenderfoot right now are (mostly) kids who just finished up their first year.  Some troops might see that as being 'behind', but it's that way because we DON'T do the program as adults.  If the scouts want to race RC cars and play 2X4 for a meeting, that's cool.

The main thing I was hoping to get a response from, which I didn't mention in my first post, was the orienteering course.  Because of this stupid virus, we have to do it one scout at a time, which means letting a parent know about it because they have to bring their scout to the location (these are scouts who can't drive yet).  I'm running it - with another parent - because of the two YPT adults needed.

Sorry for the long-winded reply.  We really DO let the scouts lead.  We also don't want to let scouts interest drop off if we can help it.  I dunno.  Maybe we really should just shrug off advancement for the most part for now.  The other fear is no summer camp, but that's something to be tackled if and when it comes to that.

An edit: the entire committee had a meeting when we found out we couldn't have regular troop meetings anymore, and ideas were asked for.  So that's how this all started.  The ideas were supposed to be passed along, but we never got that far because there was no agreement on what future meetings would even look like, let alone ideas for those meetings.

Edited by swilliams
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Here's my take on advancement, especially at the T-2-1 level,  IT IS MORE IMPORTANT THEY HAVE FUN AND LEARN THE SKILLS THAN JUST GO THROUGH IT AT BREAKNECK SPEED TO GET IT SIGNED OFF AND NOT LEARN A THING. (caps for emphasis).

There are folks who think my troop is a abysmal failure because we have 4 Scouts in the troop over a year now, and they are still Scout(1) or Tenderfoot (3). Why are they still active, because they are having fun. They know the stuff, done the activities and skills, but they just have not taken the time to get it signed off ( an aside, in my troop only adults and the SPL can sign off. I wish the PLs and ASPL could sign off, but the SM just allowed the SPL to do so, sot it is progress).

Don't get trapped in the FIRST CLASS, FIRST YEAR mentality. The data used to come up with that idea was skewed. Not only did the data not take into account of how active the troops the Scouts advancing  were ( otherwise JTE would want a lot more than 4 campouts a year) but also  it factored in the LDS 11 Year Old Program, which from my discussions from former LDS Scouters and pros. The 11 year old program is basically Webelos 3 (or 2 since LDS only had a 1 year Webelos program)  with a ASM acting more like a Den Leader and a TG acting like a Den Chief.

Regarding summer camp, have a plan B. I seriously doubt it will happen. But reguations permitting, nothing says your troop cannot do their own program. There is talk of an extended backpacking trip.

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

Here's my take on advancement, especially at the T-2-1 level,  IT IS MORE IMPORTANT THEY HAVE FUN AND LEARN THE SKILLS THAN JUST GO THROUGH IT AT BREAKNECK SPEED TO GET IT SIGNED OFF AND NOT LEARN A THING. (caps for emphasis).

There are folks who think my troop is a abysmal failure because we have 4 Scouts in the troop over a year now, and they are still Scout(1) or Tenderfoot (3). Why are they still active, because they are having fun. They know the stuff, done the activities and skills, but they just have not taken the time to get it signed off ( an aside, in my troop only adults and the SPL can sign off. I wish the PLs and ASPL could sign off, but the SM just allowed the SPL to do so, sot it is progress).

Don't get trapped in the FIRST CLASS, FIRST YEAR mentality. The data used to come up with that idea was skewed. Not only did the data not take into account of how active the troops the Scouts advancing  were ( otherwise JTE would want a lot more than 4 campouts a year) but also  it factored in the LDS 11 Year Old Program, which from my discussions from former LDS Scouters and pros. The 11 year old program is basically Webelos 3 (or 2 since LDS only had a 1 year Webelos program)  with a ASM acting more like a Den Leader and a TG acting like a Den Chief.

Regarding summer camp, have a plan B. I seriously doubt it will happen. But reguations permitting, nothing says your troop cannot do their own program. There is talk of an extended backpacking trip.

 

 

 

Thank you. I agree. 

We’re nowhere near FIrst Class, First Year. I was just thinking maybe Second Class in a year and a half would be nice. 😁

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1 hour ago, swilliams said:

Thank you. I agree. 

We’re nowhere near FIrst Class, First Year. I was just thinking maybe Second Class in a year and a half would be nice. 😁

Don't worry about it, it is the SCOUTS' ADVANCEMENT, THE SCOUTS" RESPONSIBILITY. (Emphasis again). I had a Scout who spent 4 years as a Tenderfoot. Only reason he decided to get First Class was a HA backpacking trip.Had no issues getting it signed off, and he was happy. But attending his first Eagle COH, was what got him motivated to get Eagle. He barely made it, but he got Eagle.

But he got a lot more out of Scout than Eagle. He got skills that put him way ahead his peers. He is doing exceptionally well in college. He also had a lot of fun. Eagle is nice, but that is not the goal of Scouting. The goal is to help our youth become independent, responsible citizens. One of the best Scouts I know never got past Star. But he he was able to use the knowledge, skill, and abilities he learned to save someone's life: mine. So don't worry about it.

Can it be frustrating, yep. My youngest is one of those three Tenderfoots who has been in the troop over a year. I got to step back and let him take responsibility for his own advancement, because in the end, he will grow a lot more doing it on his own, than me pushing and pulling him across some advancement lin ur Scouts.Focus on the important stuff: providing the counseling and guidance to so they can create and achieve their program.

 

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12 hours ago, swilliams said:

.. I was just thinking maybe Second Class in a year and a half would be nice. 😁

The best scout I ever knew aged out at 2nd Class. What made him the best? He invited me to join his troop!

Get your scouts to be friendly ... that's a greater achievement than any rank.

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14 hours ago, swilliams said:

  I dunno.  Maybe we really should just shrug off advancement for the most part for now.  The other fear is no summer camp, but that's something to be tackled if and when it comes to that.

Or maybe your ideas are good, you could keep generating them, gently push them and just accept the few scouts and parents that take you up on your ideas. So, do your best and know that that is a job well done. If only one scout liked what you did then that's one scout you helped. Virus or no, that's a healthier way of looking at this.

I'm beginning to think the only way I can continue with scouts, between my frustrations with my council, bankruptcy and the virus, is to find a happy place where I can help and just ignore the rest of it.

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20 hours ago, qwazse said:

*I have a flip phone for lots of reasons. One is in hopes that someday I'll have a friend named Scottie.

I always liked the authoritative sound they made closing.  Gotta practice my morse . . .

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