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1 hour ago, yknot said:

 

Just to clarify, when I say that there is nothing magical about youth led what I mean is that it is not the sole determinant for kids to have fun. Kids also have fun in more adult led activities like sports, robotics, 4-H. None of those are youth led but they still have fun. What I was musing on more was why does this come up so much in scouting? There is no doubt the kids have more fun in scouting when they get to do what they want but from general feedback it seems like it can be really hard to do. It's not just that parents helicopter it's that liability, bullying and youth protection issues are also part of the equation. And even in supposedly youth led troops adults still set the tone without even being aware they are doing it. We're youth led for example but the pressure to advance oozes out of all the adults -- leaders and parents -- and the boys seem to have internalized that to the point that it guides what they choose to do. It's great for the kids who are laser focused on getting Eagle but none of them stick around afterwards. In my various kid hats I hear a lot of "I have to go to scouts my father/mother makes me" while I almost never hear the same kind of comment about sports practice, 4-H, etc. 

This might be another topic to add to the list of market research that would be great to be done by someone outside of scouting if we survive bankruptcy. My sons have a couple times over the years filled out direct to scout surveys, but from what I saw those surveys didn't really ask useful questions. It was more rate how much you like this or that.  I think it would useful to ask scouts what youth led means to them and what they think of advancement, have they had friends who quit scouting and why, etc., etc. 

I believe you're hitting on some core questions about what is Scouting and why is it the program that it is.  If we go back the core idea "game with a purpose", then we need to define what our purpose is.  Today the purpose is captured in the aims of Scouting and the game is captured in the methods of Scouting.  I think it's fine to take a big step back and ask ourselves:

  • is our purpose correct for today?
  • is our game still correct to best achieve the purpose today?

Where I think you have to be careful is when you start thinking of just the fun and focusing only on the fun out of context.  In Scouting terms, focusing on the game without looking at the purpose.  Maybe it's the right thing to bail on the purpose - but I would suggest doing that deliberately.

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48 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

The policy in our troop was that ALL adults except the SM had to get the SPL's permission to attend the PLC. The SM only attended for brief 5 minute visits. The parents embraced the rule because it was part of our boy run program. 

This came from one of my WB Ticket items where I visited 5 different troop PLC meetings. Only one of those five troops gave the SPL autonomy to run the meeting and no adults were allowed. I duplicated the policy and the it worked very well.

Barry

Don't get me started on adult interference and PLCs. Worst PLC I ever attended started off on the wrong foot, when one adult said a separate meeting night isn't needed for the PLC and their Annual Planning Meeting, it could be done in 30-45 minutes. SPL not only didn't get a separate meeting, having to cram it into 35 minutes before a troop meeting, but the adults starting jumping in and canceling ideas before the PLC even discussed them. SPL got so fed up,  he basically sat back and let the adults in the room run it. And trying to stop them and get the SPL back in charge was impossible to do. 

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1 hour ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

And that leads into some of the reasons why youth led is not practiced and embraced. Some of the most obvious reasons is that it is a messy, unorganized by adult standards, and chaotic process. Adults know there is a better way, but do not have the patience to let the Scouts figure it out on their own. Scouts will make mistakes, and it is hard for some adults to let their Scouts make mistakes. Sometimes the adults think because the Scouts made mistakes, they are not ready for responsibility, ignoring the fact that making mistakes is a learning tool. Also repetition is a learning tool. The more something is done, the better you get at it. Sometimes the adults do not like the decisions the Scouts have made, and believe "Scouting needs to change with the times." best example I have of that is the SM who appoints all the PLs, troop leadership, and SPL because "the same people keep getting elected over and over, and [appointing the leaders] makes it fair for everyone]. The Scouts have a better understanding of each other than we do, and this SM was ignoring the fact that the Scout not getting elected was causing the most problems. Sometimes adults are not comfortable being in the background, they need to do something. And sometimes you have adults that cannot let go, they cannot accept the fact that the Scout is growing up. 

First - just gotta say that I loved your post.  Great explanation.

Isn't a big part of the issue in Scouting today that youth led is so vaguely defined and it's benefits are so difficult to comprehend?  Scouters are often quick to criticize adults for jumping in - but it's hard for them not to.  It's not that adults really want neat and clean - it's that they see the messy and recognize that there are 30 scouts all milling about because of it.  They see boring troop meetings because the PLC doesn't know how to make them engaging.  They see lackluster campouts that may or may not happen because they don't get organized.  

In the context of this discussion on fun, isn't the issue that bad patrol method is simply not fun and so many units cobble together something akin to patrol method that's not a lot of fun either?

How does a troop see a clear path with some concrete steps that they can follow to get to a "fun" patrol method model?

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1 hour ago, ParkMan said:

First - just gotta say that I loved your post.  Great explanation.

Isn't a big part of the issue in Scouting today that youth led is so vaguely defined and it's benefits are so difficult to comprehend?  Scouters are often quick to criticize adults for jumping in - but it's hard for them not to.  It's not that adults really want neat and clean - it's that they see the messy and recognize that there are 30 scouts all milling about because of it.  They see boring troop meetings because the PLC doesn't know how to make them engaging.  They see lackluster campouts that may or may not happen because they don't get organized.  

In the context of this discussion on fun, isn't the issue that bad patrol method is simply not fun and so many units cobble together something akin to patrol method that's not a lot of fun either?

How does a troop see a clear path with some concrete steps that they can follow to get to a "fun" patrol method model?

@Eagle94-A1 is a the Scoutmaster I would have killed for (metaphorically) when I was a Scout. Just gets it. 

@ParkMan you've described the problem really well, many adults don't understand it, and they either waffle between two extremes, stepping in and "fixing" things just so the Scouts have something to do and then never stop "fixing" and start developing or teaching the youth how to do it themselves. Or they take a hands off approach and it's Lord of the Flies, 21st century addition. Ideally the patrol method allows the Scouts to "make their own fun." This fufills both the purpose of teaching leadership and good citizenship, while also being fun. 

In theory, the BSA Scoutmaster training and Wood Badge is supposed to teach this balance, but it fails to. My own experience with implementing the "fun" patrol method is mostly from my experiences as a Scout, my involvement in this forum, and devouring as many books and blogs that I could get my hands on.

I often thing of EDGE/Stages of Team development from NYLT/ Wood Badge. The Scouts won't just start operating the patrol method when we say, "You're in patrols, now decide what you want to do!" They need it to demonstrated and guided for them either by senior youth or the adults. NYLT is an OK start, but NYLT does not teach a Scout how to implement the patrol method in their own troops. It assumes that their troop already has the structure in place. If it's in place already NYLT can be powerful in sustaining it, but my own experience tells me that Scouts cannot build the patrol method without the willing guidance and permission of the adults. If left to their own devices outside of Scouting, youth naturally form gangs or patrols. 

The biggest oversight of BSA training as a whole: It does not allow for imperfect structure or conditions, nor does it help a Troop get to the ideal. Having a few older Scouts or Patrol leaders NYLT trained is a big help for actually operating patrols once your unit has them. When I went to NYLT, I came back to my Troop, and my troop adults were clueless in helping me apply what I had learned and what my vision was. When I stayed on with the Troop as an ASM, that launched my patrol method/youth leadership crusade, which is well documented on this forum. 

I'm going to do my best to elaborate, but it will never be perfect: 

  • Senior Scouts or Scoutmasters have to help the Scouts see what is possible, expand their horizons and assist them putting together plans. This where I think EDGE/Stages of Team development is appropriate. As the patrol goes from being a new group to an experienced patrol, what they need from the SPL or the Adults will diminish over time. It's very cool to see patrols with self sustaining cultures, but it takes time and effort to get there. 
  • Scouts should pick their own patrols. New Scouts can be in new Scout patrols, but I think its better to seed them into established patrols as appropriate. I'd leave that up to your Scouts to decide. 
    • Scouts will typically form patrols around mutual friends and mutual interests. That's ok. 
  • The role of Troop level officers like Guides, Instructors, Quartermasters and SPL's are to facilitate the needs of patrols. Ideally a SPL or ASPL will help a new patrol leader get started with putting together patrol activities and outings. The patrol leader will also solicit ideas from the patrol about Troop outings and take them to the PLC. 
    • It's ok to have the Scoutmaster or Assistant Scoutmaster available as a resource when the patrol leader or (A)SPL calls for it. 
  • Part of how we built the patrol method in my troop was with the weekly meetings. The PLC would select weekly/monthly meeting themes, sometimes outing themes, and the meetings would be tailored around that. For example, pioneering might have been the theme, and the patrol activity/ game would be a lashing relay or a stretcher run. This gives the patrol leader a target on what to work with his patrol on during patrol corners, and the competition builds patrol spirit. We'd typically hand out ribbons or dollar store trinkets as rewards for patrol winners of competitions, and they'd display that nonsense on their patrol flags. 
    • For added responsibility, patrols can rotate responsibility for creating and running the patrol challenge activities. 
  • On Outings, it's important for there to be time for patrols to do their own thing. We had an outing where some of the younger Scouts wanted to work on their totin chit, while the older Scout patrol wanted to go hike in the State park. It's perfectly fine for the patrols to do their own thing, but many Troops won't allow that. 

Happy to answer questions, elaborate further, or get my opinion torn to shreds. This is possibly one of my favorite topics. I could probably write a book. 

Edited by Sentinel947
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We keep talking about the lack of clear adult training about patrol method but I wonder if it would help if we focused on the kids more before they get to Troop. I've mentioned before, youth seem to be coming to scouting today with fewer interpersonal and conflict resolution skills. All the adults see is the confusion. I know people are sick of messing with program but maybe there is more need for direct curriculum starting in Cubs about youth leadership and what youth led is. I don't think the kids understand it themselves, so it's hard for them to push back on other kids or adults. The youth leadership message is inherent in the program to some degree, but it's not spelled out in a way that I think is clear for young kids. Certainly not the way we do with Cyber Chip (although I have huge issues with the content of that but that's another topic). As I've also mentioned elsewhere, this is not unique to scouting. Schools are doing fewer group projects because of issues with kids having trouble working in groups. 

When BSA redid the program a few years ago, I was thinking of this and was hopeful the revisions would find some way to address it. The only thing I saw was a new Bear requirement  to manage up and down and run a carnival for the Pack. It didn't think it would work well and when I saw it in action it did not work well. There was nothing that I recall in the requirement that talked about why they were doing it, how to do it, and what they might learn about working with other kids. It also seemed that such activities would be more natural for Webelos and AOLs to help prepare them for the patrol method. The other problem was that Webelos and AOLs are already antsy and looking to differentiate themselves from younger scouts and there is no way they wanted to be directed by Bears. There must have been problems elsewhere because it was taken out the next year, unfortunately along with some good stuff that had added more outdoors related requirements like camping.

We do ISLT with older kids, but they are often already in situations long before that where they need some training, like patrols. If not exactly leadership training, maybe they could at least use some basics on how to function in a group like a patrol. It is going to be messy but I think if the kids actually understood what they were supposed to be doing and could explain it to the adults, there might be more patience and understanding. Right now I just see parents frustrated because they are scheduled in three places at once with four different kids and when Johnny the scout in charge of the weekend camp out sends out an email that they need to be at the camp site two hours earlier than expected, they blow up and jump in.  And after a couple experiences like that what a kid might "learn" is that he doesn't want to volunteer to run anything anymore. 

 

 

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I have often said (only semi-jokingly) that the demise of kids interpersonal and conflict resolution skills was organized sports. Organized sports have pushed down to the youngest ages and subsumed all sportsplay activities. Prior kids would play kickball, or tag or or street hockey in their neighborhood. They made up games too. When the inevitable conflict, you're out/safe, arose there was no adult making the call and the kids had to figure out a resolution. The most common was "do over". Kids didn't just make this up, they learned that from the older kid who learned from other older kids years before. 

In organized sports, the adults manage the teams, plan the games, are the umpires/refs managing the game, eliminating kid-kid conflict. The kids just play the game without learning any real life skills. The neighborhood kids playing the games developed a neighborhood culture, invented games, created/re-created teams, solved problems, resolved conflicts... all without adult interference. I opine, adults organizing the kids into "little league for 4 year olds"  are the soul-crusher of kids sportsplay activities and thus deny kids the opportunity to learn, grow, resolve. 

This is also why kids and adults are having an even more difficult time with youth-led and patrol method. The kids do not have the neighborhood sportsplay experiences, and the adults think they must organize and solve everything. This is a (the) problem and the solution is self-evident. Give the kids more opportunity to do the things which require them to make decisions, interact, solve, etc... without having adults meddle. In the scouting world this can result in "lord of the flies" which is ok at first. Immediately after the SM/ASM uses that as an opportunity to train the scout leaders (PLs). Adults training scouts should be following the patrol structure. PLs then train APLs and their patrol. The SM should NOT intervene with a patrol (immediate safety concern notwithstanding) but allow the patrol to operate under the leadership of the PL. After, and ongoing the SM should be interacting with the PL to help him/her learn and grow. A SPL and/or troop guide will likely emerge after a time to alleviate some of the SM tutelage of the PLs. 

Edited by DuctTape
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11 minutes ago, DuctTape said:

I have often said (only semi-jokingly) that the demise of kids interpersonal and conflict resolution skills was organized sports. Organized sports have pushed down to the youngest ages and subsumed all sportsplay activities. Prior kids would play kickball, or tag or or street hockey in their neighborhood. They made up games too. When the inevitable conflict, you're out/safe, arose there was no adult making the call and the kids had to figure out a resolution. The most common was "do over". Kids didn't just make this up, they learned that from the older kid who learned from other older kids years before. 

Well said..     I was observing a  newly elected PLC of a half dozen PLs and SPL and ASPL.   The Scoutmaster wanted  them to rough out the next years schedule.  They sat there WAITING (that was exactly what they were doing)  for the SM to TELL them what to do, what to WANT to do. The SM made some suggestions, things the Troop had done in the past, new ideas he had heard from other Scouts...  finally, the SPL said, "you mean I can make that decision ? ?" The SM spread out his hands and said  "DUUUHHH ?""  the year eventually was planned and the Troop had some old and some new adventures. Before he aged out , that SPL finally was brow beat by the SM to complete his Life requirements and was awarded his First Class, his Star and his Life all at the same, last, CoH.   He eventually became a head cashier for  local bank.  He did Scouting....   

BP's idea was that the older Scouts teach the younger ones.  MAYBE the adults teach the older Scouts (Totin Chip, Orienteering, Pioneering, etc.) but the Troop Instructors, the Troop Guides, the PLs must be the ones who example and role model the skills and Scout stuff.   Otherwise, "my parents make me come" will be the reason rather than "Jake taught me how to set up my tent and cook over a fire.".   

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2 hours ago, yknot said:

We keep talking about the lack of clear adult training about patrol method but I wonder if it would help if we focused on the kids more before they get to Troop. I've mentioned before, youth seem to be coming to scouting today with fewer interpersonal and conflict resolution skills. All the adults see is the confusion. I know people are sick of messing with program but maybe there is more need for direct curriculum starting in Cubs about youth leadership and what youth led is. I don't think the kids understand it themselves, so it's hard for them to push back on other kids or adults. The youth leadership message is inherent in the program to some degree, but it's not spelled out in a way that I think is clear for young kids. Certainly not the way we do with Cyber Chip (although I have huge issues with the content of that but that's another topic). As I've also mentioned elsewhere, this is not unique to scouting. Schools are doing fewer group projects because of issues with kids having trouble working in groups. 

When BSA redid the program a few years ago, I was thinking of this and was hopeful the revisions would find some way to address it. The only thing I saw was a new Bear requirement  to manage up and down and run a carnival for the Pack. It didn't think it would work well and when I saw it in action it did not work well. There was nothing that I recall in the requirement that talked about why they were doing it, how to do it, and what they might learn about working with other kids. It also seemed that such activities would be more natural for Webelos and AOLs to help prepare them for the patrol method. The other problem was that Webelos and AOLs are already antsy and looking to differentiate themselves from younger scouts and there is no way they wanted to be directed by Bears. There must have been problems elsewhere because it was taken out the next year, unfortunately along with some good stuff that had added more outdoors related requirements like camping.

We do ISLT with older kids, but they are often already in situations long before that where they need some training, like patrols. If not exactly leadership training, maybe they could at least use some basics on how to function in a group like a patrol. It is going to be messy but I think if the kids actually understood what they were supposed to be doing and could explain it to the adults, there might be more patience and understanding. Right now I just see parents frustrated because they are scheduled in three places at once with four different kids and when Johnny the scout in charge of the weekend camp out sends out an email that they need to be at the camp site two hours earlier than expected, they blow up and jump in.  And after a couple experiences like that what a kid might "learn" is that he doesn't want to volunteer to run anything anymore. 

 

 

if the adults are not trained properly, the "natural" thing they tend to do is be "helpful."  " Here, let me help.  You will burn that pancake [taking the flipper in hand]."

Hence the counsel of my first Sm: "No one ever died of a burned flapjack."  

The primary job of a Scoutmaster, beyond insuring safety, is training the leaders to lead their patrols and troop.  But if, the adults don't know where they are supposed to be going, the odds of getting lost are rather high.  So the BSA deemphasis on adult training , including of lack of knowledge about the Scouting program themselves, is having predictable results

 

 

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1 hour ago, TAHAWK said:

 

Hence the counsel of my first Sm: "No one ever died of a burned flapjack."  

 

 

 

The saying in our neck of the woods was, "no scout ever died of starvation on a weekend camping trip".

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10 hours ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

GREAT QUESTION! :) 

The reason why 'Youth Led" keeps coming up in Scouting is because it is the heart of Scouting, yet it is not fully practiced, and in some units embraced. And as @TAHAWK points out, BSA has not had a true explanation of the Patrol Method in the literature and training for a very long time. You would have to look at William "Green Bar Bill" Hillcourt's work to get a true understanding, and his last handbook and training material was from my youth. Is it any wonder folks will say their troop is "youth led" when in reality it is not?

And to be honest, while I say my troop is youth led,  is not fully youth led if you go by Hillcourt's work. While the PLC is planning activities, meetings, etc, The PLs are not doing the advancement sign offs. That is currently restricted to the SPL, but we are slowly moving towards that. The SM does have concerns about if the Scouts are responsible enough for that.

And that leads into some of the reasons why youth led is not practiced and embraced. Some of the most obvious reasons is that it is a messy, unorganized by adult standards, and chaotic process. Adults know there is a better way, but do not have the patience to let the Scouts figure it out on their own. Scouts will make mistakes, and it is hard for some adults to let their Scouts make mistakes. Sometimes the adults think because the Scouts made mistakes, they are not ready for responsibility, ignoring the fact that making mistakes is a learning tool. Also repetition is a learning tool. The more something is done, the better you get at it. Sometimes the adults do not like the decisions the Scouts have made, and believe "Scouting needs to change with the times." best example I have of that is the SM who appoints all the PLs, troop leadership, and SPL because "the same people keep getting elected over and over, and [appointing the leaders] makes it fair for everyone]. The Scouts have a better understanding of each other than we do, and this SM was ignoring the fact that the Scout not getting elected was causing the most problems. Sometimes adults are not comfortable being in the background, they need to do something. And sometimes you have adults that cannot let go, they cannot accept the fact that the Scout is growing up. F

Other times, adults are using their own experience as an example, and that experience may not be the best one. One SM grew up in the Improved Scouting Program of the 1970s, and his troop rarely camped. He doesn't understand why camping is so important. Another SM was in a troop was run like the military unit because his SM was prior military, issuing commands to the PLC. That is the model he uses with his troop. Finally some adults get so focused on false metrics, i.e. FIRST CLASS FIRST YEAR, Number of Eagle Scouts, JTE, etc that they forget we are suppose to be developing youth, not meeting some false goal.

I think the focus on false metrics is such an apt phrase. I think it's part of why scouting has lost the sense of fun for some scouts. 

I return to youth led however.  I myself struggle with what the guard rails are. What is an acceptable mistake? If you don't store or cook your meat properly and make everyone sick, that is certainly a lesson learned but then that camp out has not been fun. A patrol where the Type A personalities constantly over  shout the Type B personalities until the Type B's eventually leave is maybe a lesson learned for the Type A's -- be overbearing enough and you'll eventually get your way -- but then we've lost some more reserved scouts who might have actually been the more scout like scouts and better leaders. In my reality, I don't see adults dealing well with this. They either overcompensate and take it all over or they are gleefully and completely hands off. In both case, scouting is not fun for our target audience, the scouts and in my neck of the woods I see a lot of dismaying attrition.  I think this is why this comment of "scouting is supposed to be fun" keeps resurfacing. It makes me think that scouting boils down more to alchemy more than training: If you get the right mix of gifted leaders and impressive scouts, it will work beautifully. If you don't have that, scouting can be very difficult to deliver.  

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7 hours ago, Sentinel947 said:

In theory, the BSA Scoutmaster training and Wood Badge is supposed to teach this balance, but it fails to. My own experience with implementing the "fun" patrol method is mostly from my experiences as a Scout, my involvement in this forum, and devouring as many books and blogs that I could get my hands on.

I often thing of EDGE/Stages of Team development from NYLT/ Wood Badge. The Scouts won't just start operating the patrol method when we say, "You're in patrols, now decide what you want to do!" They need it to demonstrated and guided for them either by senior youth or the adults. NYLT is an OK start, but NYLT does not teach a Scout how to implement the patrol method in their own troops. It assumes that their troop already has the structure in place. If it's in place already NYLT can be powerful in sustaining it, but my own experience tells me that Scouts cannot build the patrol method without the willing guidance and permission of the adults. If left to their own devices outside of Scouting, youth naturally form gangs or patrols. 

The biggest oversight of BSA training as a whole: It does not allow for imperfect structure or conditions, nor does it help a Troop get to the ideal. Having a few older Scouts or Patrol leaders NYLT trained is a big help for actually operating patrols once your unit has them. When I went to NYLT, I came back to my Troop, and my troop adults were clueless in helping me apply what I had learned and what my vision was. When I stayed on with the Troop as an ASM, that launched my patrol method/youth leadership crusade, which is well documented on this forum. 

I'm going to do my best to elaborate, but it will never be perfect: 

  • Senior Scouts or Scoutmasters have to help the Scouts see what is possible, expand their horizons and assist them putting together plans. This where I think EDGE/Stages of Team development is appropriate. As the patrol goes from being a new group to an experienced patrol, what they need from the SPL or the Adults will diminish over time. It's very cool to see patrols with self sustaining cultures, but it takes time and effort to get there. 

[...]

Happy to answer questions, elaborate further, or get my opinion torn to shreds. This is possibly one of my favorite topics. I could probably write a book. 

Thank you for the wonderfully constructed thoughts on this.

How much do you think this is about Scouters simply not having something that they can emulate?  What I noticed in our Troop was a general lack of understanding of how patrol method and a youth led troop functions.  This is saying a lot in a troop with 30+ volunteers and 75+ Scouts.  I like to think we were not adult led, but yet as I as Committee Chair looked around I could tell there was too much adult decision making and interference.  I think in our case it really was lack of knowledge.

  • What, for example, should a PLC do to organize a troop meeting?  What does a fun troop meeting even look like?
  • What does a well run, Scout led camping trip look like?
  • What do you do with the group of 11 year old new Scouts while the SPL is busy focused on sorting out the night's plan with the PLC?
  • How do you really organize a weekend camping trip for 40 Scouts and have it be anywhere close to youth led?
  • How do you plan for a year when the PLC can't plan the next troop meeting?

etc...  

What I saw in our case was adults who were happy to embrace youth led - but none of us really knew what it looked like.  At best, we could point to vague ideas and concepts about letting Scouts make mistakes and sort things out.  However, it always seemed like youth led was some sort of vague panacea that everyone wanted to achieve, but no one had any idea what it really looked like.  

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15 minutes ago, yknot said:

the Type A personalities constantly over  shout the Type B personalities until the Type B's eventually leave is maybe a lesson learned for the Type A's -- be overbearing enough and you'll eventually get your way -- but then we've lost some more reserved scouts who might have actually been the more scout like scouts and better leaders.

I'm seeing a similar dynamic in our troop at present.   Any good advice?

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6 hours ago, yknot said:

We keep talking about the lack of clear adult training about patrol method but I wonder if it would help if we focused on the kids more before they get to Troop. I've mentioned before, youth seem to be coming to scouting today with fewer interpersonal and conflict resolution skills. All the adults see is the confusion. I know people are sick of messing with program but maybe there is more need for direct curriculum starting in Cubs about youth leadership and what youth led is. I don't think the kids understand it themselves, so it's hard for them to push back on other kids or adults. The youth leadership message is inherent in the program to some degree, but it's not spelled out in a way that I think is clear for young kids. Certainly not the way we do with Cyber Chip (although I have huge issues with the content of that but that's another topic). As I've also mentioned elsewhere, this is not unique to scouting. Schools are doing fewer group projects because of issues with kids having trouble working in groups. 

The 18 to 24 month Webelos program is designed to be the bridge for Cub Scouts to prepare them for Scouts BSA. From my personal experience (back when Cub Scouts was a 3 year program), from completing the old Cub Scout Leader Basic Training ( CSBLT, a full day course covering ALL Cub Scout positions), and observation of those units following the program correctly, IT WORKS (emphasis)!

What is suppose to happen is the Webelos Den Leader starts implementing elements of the Scouts BSA program, and starts having the parents back away and allowing the Cubs to do stuff on their own. The elected Denner is suppose to take some responsibility, hopefully under the guidance of a Den Chief, but if not with the WDL. WDL training goes over the differences between Cub Scout Dens and Webelos Dens and how the purpose is to prepare them for Scouts BSA. Webelos  Dens are suppose to do some things with a Scout troop, and hopefully develop relationships.

While the CSBLT was longer, because it covered all CS leader position, IMHO it was better because it went into the details and differences with every role.  You didn't have to do training every time your den moved up, and redo sections you had already done previously. I do not know how it is with the current online format, but I have heard a lot of complaints about how it is hard to keep track of the various modules you need to do to complete the different training programs. Plus locally we have folks with internet connectivity issues making online training harder. Then you add in the human factor, I've already taken Den Leader  Specific Training, why do I need WDL Specific, they are still Cubs I know what I am doing attitude. Also you can add  the this is how I have always done it, it works and I am not changing attitude. Finally att some of the  the Cubs aren't ready for this attitude, and the transition doesn't happen like it is suppose to.

Grant you this is anecdotal, but I will give you an example. One troop I was in had Webelos from 2 packs join with different mentalities. First pack started the transition process as soon as they became Webelos. They elected a denner who took on some responsibility,  did camping with a troop the both years, started doing things on their own without parents' help etc. They would allow Scouts to teach certain  Activity Badges, like Castaway By the time December hit of 5th grade, they were ready to go. The Cubs, and their parents joined a troop, and had no problems whatsoever. The Second pack would not begin the transition process until 5th grade, if then. Parents never did allow the Cub Scouts do things on their own. When Scouts offered to help teach skills, like Castaway, they were rebuffed by the parents.

Both Webelos dens were invited to the troop's Wilderness Survival Camp Out so they could apply what they learned for Castaway. Den 1 planned to stay the nite, den 2 turned it into a day trip. Den 1 packed like they were taught, brought survival kits and the supplies they would need including food that didn't need to be refrigerated. Den 2 had the parents carrying a large cooler, and did not have everything they needed. Den 1 Scouts went right to it, building individual shelters, starting their fires, etc. In fact 2 of the Webelos had their shelters built, fires going, and cooking their lunch before the Scouts finished building their shelters! Den 2 goofed off, did not follow the directions of the Scout working with them, had their parents cook for them, and eventually had the parents build a group survival shelter right before they left so they could get it signed off. And I would not let anyone sleep in it if it was going to rain, because it was that bad. Den 1 Crossed Over January 2nd ( Castaway Weekend was after the last meeting in December, and they wanted the badge), and 4 years later all of them are still active. Den 2 Crossed Over in March, and within 3 months, 1/2 the den dropped out. Common reason was it was not what they expected. 4 years later, only 1 remains active.

The only changes I would suggest, besides training, would be to make Scouting Adventure a Webelos Badge requirement instead of AOL. Get the Cubs, and more importantly the parents prepping for Scouting ASAP.

6 hours ago, yknot said:

When BSA redid the program a few years ago, I was thinking of this and was hopeful the revisions would find some way to address it. The only thing I saw was a new Bear requirement  to manage up and down and run a carnival for the Pack. It didn't think it would work well and when I saw it in action it did not work well. There was nothing that I recall in the requirement that talked about why they were doing it, how to do it, and what they might learn about working with other kids. It also seemed that such activities would be more natural for Webelos and AOLs to help prepare them for the patrol method. The other problem was that Webelos and AOLs are already antsy and looking to differentiate themselves from younger scouts and there is no way they wanted to be directed by Bears. There must have been problems elsewhere because it was taken out the next year, unfortunately along with some good stuff that had added more outdoors related requirements like camping.

This is a bit of a sore point for me because I am friends with one of the folks on the committee that came up with the original changes (If your Webelos like Castaway, You are welcome ;) ) , and National not only did NOT tell the committee the December 2016 changes were being made, they did not even allow the original changes a chance by changing the requirements 17 months after implementation. Anyone who attended the Roundtable sessions leading up to the changes knew the changes would require a lot more planning because 1) they were new, and 2) some of the requirement were much more involved. I know that my pack had attendance at those RT, and we planned for the changes. We had very minor problems implementing the 2015 program, and many DLs were not happy when the 2016 changes came about. Long story short, we kept our original program we planned, and kept the original 2015 requirements because it was not fair to anyone to change them mid year. Locally the packs that did not attend RT had major issues and were not prepared for the 2015 changes. I am told by my friend that a lot of Packs apparently did not prepare properly, and complained.

Camping got cut because some councils apparently still have the attitude "Cubs don't need to camp." My council does not have a dedicated Cub Scout approved camp ground list. Closest we have is the OA's WHERE TO GO CAMPING book, that many packs use.

6 hours ago, yknot said:

We do ISLT with older kids, but they are often already in situations long before that where they need some training, like patrols. If not exactly leadership training, maybe they could at least use some basics on how to function in a group like a patrol. It is going to be messy but I think if the kids actually understood what they were supposed to be doing and could explain it to the adults, there might be more patience and understanding. Right now I just see parents frustrated because they are scheduled in three places at once with four different kids and when Johnny the scout in charge of the weekend camp out sends out an email that they need to be at the camp site two hours earlier than expected, they blow up and jump in.  And after a couple experiences like that what a kid might "learn" is that he doesn't want to volunteer to run anything anymore. 

Yes the youth need to do a better job communicating. I even see it with ILST Scouts. But the Webelos program as I mentioned above is suppose to give a taste of what lies ahead in Scouts BSA. Some of the issues DO occur at the Webelos level, and I have found if you talk to the parents then, it won't hurt as much when the Scouts are in a troop.

2 hours ago, DuctTape said:

The saying in our neck of the woods was, "no scout ever died of starvation on a weekend camping trip".

DITTO!

12 minutes ago, yknot said:

I return to youth led however.  I myself struggle with what the guard rails are. What is an acceptable mistake? If you don't store or cook your meat properly and make everyone sick, that is certainly a lesson learned but then that camp out has not been fun. 

Being a Scouter is an art, not a science, it takes, patience, time, training, and teamwork to get the right balance between Interfering and Guiding. I have described being a Scouter as walking a tightrope, because it is. And I would make the tightrope Zing It, when it comes to my hoodlums. One of my mentors had would jokingly say, 'Is anyone dead? No! OK, is anyone going to the hospital? NO! then we don't have a problem."

 

I need some sleep will finish up tomorrow

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12 minutes ago, yknot said:

I think the focus on false metrics is such an apt phrase. I think it's part of why scouting has lost the sense of fun for some scouts. 

I return to youth led however.  I myself struggle with what the guard rails are. What is an acceptable mistake? If you don't store or cook your meat properly and make everyone sick, that is certainly a lesson learned but then that camp out has not been fun. A patrol where the Type A personalities constantly over  shout the Type B personalities until the Type B's eventually leave is maybe a lesson learned for the Type A's -- be overbearing enough and you'll eventually get your way -- but then we've lost some more reserved scouts who might have actually been the more scout like scouts and better leaders. In my reality, I don't see adults dealing well with this. They either overcompensate and take it all over or they are gleefully and completely hands off. In both case, scouting is not fun for our target audience, the scouts and in my neck of the woods I see a lot of dismaying attrition.  I think this is why this comment of "scouting is supposed to be fun" keeps resurfacing. It makes me think that scouting boils down more to alchemy more than training: If you get the right mix of gifted leaders and impressive scouts, it will work beautifully. If you don't have that, scouting can be very difficult to deliver.  

Wonderfully said.  I was writing a post, hit reply and saw yours.  You said it much more artfully than I did.  I feel like this is exactly the kind of issues we faced.

Your post reminded me of a period where we have two Webelos dens of the same age in our pack.  One run by a very organized set of parents.  The other by a parent with a ton of outdoor experience.  My son was in this fellow's den.  One month we decided to hold a joint den camp out for the boys at that level.  In preparation the other den had all kinds of plans and schedules.  The den leader surveyed the site and was very well prepared.  My son's den leader (who had a lot of camping experience) instead focused on getting the boys to practice camp cooking in den meetings.  When we all got ot camp, both dens were starting breakfast meal prep - pancakes.  The other, super organized, den leader had her den up and going.  Yet, every parent was there with the boys at every step.  All the boys got to do was mix some batter and flip the pancakes.  In my son's den, the den leader said - OK boys, here's the box of pancake mix, some eggs, and milk.  Have fun.  The boys in his den jumped into action and did a fantastic job doing the whole thing.

I share that story because nowhere, other than experience, would those den leaders have known how far to push the Scouts and make it work.  I'll guarantee you that my son's den had more fun.  But, this goes back to the problem of leaders just have no idea how to deal with the day to day decisions that make this all work.  How can Scouting effectively help prepare leaders so that they even begin to approach the boys correctly so that it stays fun and engaging?

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40 minutes ago, Treflienne said:

I'm seeing a similar dynamic in our troop at present.   Any good advice?

Ugh. None that doesn't involve adult intervention, which is why I asked about guard rails when trying to be youth led. To some degree I think the traditional scout leadership system rewards the more articulate, self motivated, Type A scouts. The standard answer you will often get is more adult training in the patrol method is needed in order to properly train SPLs and Troop Guides, but in my neck of the woods there are so many disconnects in that process that the scouts are simply gone. If you are seeing it I do think it's worth a discussion with your SM to try and get him to have a discussion with the SPL and follow that whole chain of command back down. Another option is to have a side bar discussion with some of the Type B scouts about how they can try to be more assertive. Maybe others here have better advice. I did recommend a book here in another thread that really opened my eyes to the problems these more reserved scouts face and about how their leadership value is often completely overlooked, particularly in scouting: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain. 

Edited by yknot

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