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Lone Scouts - a better structure

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Seasonal Scouts is an interesting idea, although we'd need something with a different acronym.  Maybe the program could work something like this:

  • We'd divide a geographical region into chunks, maybe we'd call them Districts or Councils
  • Each District or Council would have to recruit a few Counselors to work with the Seasonal Scouts
  • The Counselors could coordinate occasional events to introduce the Seasonal Scouts and their parents to each other
  • Rather than have the Seasonal Scouts join and move in/out of a traditional unit which could be disruptive to those units, they could just join the District/Council at Large
  • At the occasional events (monthly? maybe quarterly) the Seasonal Scouts could meet other like-minded and similarly scheduled Seasonal Scouts
  • Those like-minded and similarly scheduled Seasonal Scouts could coordinate activities together, with guidance from their Counselor(s) and Parents, even high adventure
  • Since they'd be full BSA members, they could also join their District/Council contingents for High Adventure trips or other activities
  • Council Summer campus could even have Seasonal Scout Troops where Seasonal Scouts could drop into a traditional summer camp experience with other Seasonal scouts.  

Sounds a lot like this, https://www.scouting.org/commissioners/lone-scout/.  

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I don't know about that. Is Eagle really the penultimate reason why most kids join scouts, or is it something BSA has used to market scouting to parents? I remember standing with my  final AOL den of 

There's one thing missing in this idea that scouting excels at relative to other youth activities. I think it's magic when older scouts teach and help the younger scouts. It could still work in a goal

You bring up some good points. The culminating activity could be a huge benefit as it would provide focus for the patrol. Something which currently is lacking. Not sure if the yearly planning would ne

7 hours ago, MattR said:

I think it needs to account for something else that just about every other youth activity has: a culmination. Sports have playoffs, theater has a play, robotics have competitions, band has a concert, 4H has shows. They all have something everyone works towards, new skills to learn, there's inherent teamwork required. And scouts has just 3 more campouts.

Seasons are certainly a good idea but there would have to be a lot more planning. Rather than one high adventure trip a year there needs to be something special each "season." There might be one week long high adventure trip a year but maybe 3 other long weekends? Maybe wrap this around a specific goal like learning a skill and having a meet that goes into it much more deeply than the usual camporee? The yearly planning session picks the challenges and patrols are formed around those at the start of each season.

It sounds nice but it looks like a lot of details. How much can the scouts do?

You bring up some good points. The culminating activity could be a huge benefit as it would provide focus for the patrol. Something which currently is lacking. Not sure if the yearly planning would need to be a part. This could be done as I said by patrol in the first week of the season. 

As far as how much could the scouts do? I was imagining the scouts meeting significantly more to accomplish their goals. Idea being is hypercompresses a year into a season. They could meet every week day like they do for practice during sports' seasons. I also imagine that the scouts would likely do this for multiple years. The patrol could almost remain "intact" over the years. 

An entire unit could function under this option. The biggest obstacle I see is getting adults to invest this much time as it requires significantly more than 1hr/week (we all laugh at that now).  I don't know if we could get volunteers to give up this much time. Though it could be possible to share the load amongst many adult volunteers. 

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Bringing a few of these thoughts together and adding a few tweaks:

  • Signup/registration is with a district or other organization covering a geographic area
  • Signup/registration on a quarterly (seasonal) basis
  • Signup/registration by grade or age
  • Each season, Scouts can sign up to join a patrol working on a particular specified program with a set time commitment and schedule, or a "general" program working with one or more counselors on the Scout's own schedule, or both
  • The youth can express preferences for friends to be in the same patrol with, neighborhood or town to meet in, and adult leaders (but may not get all preferences)
  • As with youth sports leagues, the district recruits adult leaders/coaches and assistants willing to lead a patrol or willing to serve as counselors for Scouts on the "general" program  
  • The adult leaders/coaches and assistants who will work with patrols can specify the age and sex of Scouts they are willing to work with and the days/dates they are available for practices, and four weekends during the season they can lead overnight outings (Scouts BSA, Webelos/Arrow of Light) and/or day events (Cub Scouts, Webelos/Arrow of Light)
  • The adult "general" program counselors can specify the age and sex of Scouts they are willing to work with and the particular areas (Cub Scout adventures, merit badges, particular skills) they are willing to counsel
  • Each adult leader/coach and assistant for patrols can select one "canned" patrol program to lead that season from a dozen or so pre-set Scouting patrol programs that will form the patrol's activities for the season (for example - hiking/backpacking, cycling, aquatics, emergency response/first aid, cooking, STEM, service projects, nature/environment, etc.) and includes specific rank requirements, merit badges, or other awards to be completed by that patrol during that season
  • Patrols will generally have two registered adult leaders
  • The season concludes with (1) a district Camporee consisting of competitions between patrols, demonstrations/displays, and fun events, or (2) for patrols in certain specialities, a weekend outdoor adventure that tests their skills
  • Between patrol seasons and general program seasons, a youth will be able to complete all rank requirements from Bobcat to Eagle Scout
  • No unit committees
  • Adult leaders (both patrol and general) commit to extensive in-person and practical training, and certification in certain specialties
  • The district/geographic area is run by Commissioners who are completely in charge of patrol formation, Scout assignment to patrols, adult training, behavioral issues, etc.
  • Funding is by registration fees and fundraising at district level; patrols have budgets based on their specialties
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There's one thing missing in this idea that scouting excels at relative to other youth activities. I think it's magic when older scouts teach and help the younger scouts. It could still work in a goal oriented approach. I noticed that a lot of older scouts that stuck around until they aged out really responded to the younger scouts looking up to them. Some didn't, but that's okay. For those that like it, service to younger scouts could certainly be part of their challenge. I think some sort of service should be part of every Scout's plan.

Another point is could this work within the context of a regular troop? I don't see why not but that could be changed.

Finally, someone mentioned summer camp as the culmination of a patrol. I like that, but not at a summer camp strongly based in merit badges. I'd think the merit badges would need to be done  or mostly completed before camp because that would be the emphasis of camp.

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So, an interesting thing to add to the mix — it looks like a council is actually exploring a model of lone-ish scouts meeting in a virtual troop.  I came across it since part of my Woodbadge tasks are related to scouting during COVID, and one of my goals is related to thinking through the combination of the virtual and in-person scouting since different families may have different risk tolerances vis-a-vis exposure and therefore different willingness to participate in-person.  

It is in the Northern Lights Council and they are calling it Scout Point.  Web site is here:  https://scoutpoint.org/about/  They describe the pitch as focused on serving rural scouts, but I have had the thought that in a post-bankruptcy environment, there might be more areas where potential scouts don’t have troops nearby and virtual options could potentially attempt to backfill for that lack.

This is the summary text from one of their other COVID specific pages where I found the effort initially.


New Option for Scouting at Home

Our council is in the process of creating an online Scouting program delivery system that will be available soon - "Scout Point". This system is being designed to offer the Scouting program to rural areas where a Scout unit may not be located nearby (similar to Lone Scouts). In the event that Scouts can't meet in person, Scout Point will also be available for all Scouts until in-person meetings can resume.


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