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Posted (edited)

@DuctTapeI agree with you. My conundrum right now is that my son likes the troop. There’s a lot to be said that’s positive—they go on monthly campouts, they are organized and they communicate well via a weekly email. I’ve been involved with units where none of those has been the case. So it will be hard. In addition, he is scheduled to go to summer camp with them. I have already paid and he is all registered. Ugghh!

Edited by AScoutIsHonest
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1 hour ago, InquisitiveScouter said:

The post-MB signature process is important.  A unit leader should ask these questions:

1.  How'd it go?  Did you enjoy this MB?  What did you like about it?  What did you dislike about it?  Then find out what the Scout wants to work on next.  I often used the post-MB session to help the Scout pick the next MB, and then start the next blue card right then and there.

2.  Did you like working with this MB Counselor?  Did you review all the requirements with the MBC?  Did you complete all the requirements with the MBC?  (If the answer is "No", and it occasionally is, you work with the Scout to find a way to complete the badge.  This is one of the hardest things to do, and it is impossible to intercept them all.)  Did the MBC have you complete all the requirements as stated?  Did the MBC require you to complete anything extra that was not written in the requirements?

3.  Would you work with this MBC again?  Do you recommend other Scouts in our Troop go to this MBC?

4.  Did you thank the MBC?  When the Scout has done this, I also send a brief email or text to the MBC thanking them for their support.  No, it isn't required, but a Scout is Courteous, and when someone has given their time to help you, you darned well better thank them.  If I had to make a 13th Point of the Scout Law it would be A Scout is Grateful!

Spend a bit more time with the Scout, and you've done a Scoutmaster Conference!  Sign two things off!

We did fine without adding another administrative step in the scouts adventures.

Barry 

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3 hours ago, AScoutIsHonest said:

My conundrum right now is that my son likes the troop.

Please consider that maybe this should be more of his problem and less of yours. If he has friends and is having fun then he will get more out of the program than if he's not having fun but is advancing. 

This SM and all of his problems are something your son has to navigate in his pursuit of his goals. Advancement is only part of them and this will change over time.

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@MattRYes, I definitely understand that. Have been through similar stuff like this before, although not anywhere near this extreme. My oldest briefly considered changing troops but elected to stay put. It wound up ok, but again, those problems were very different.

The most serious aspect of the situation is that he is not approachable (putting it mildly), and yet my son will obviously have to approach him. As a scouter mom from the unit said to me today, “he (SM) does not live out the scout law. He is not kind or courteous…” I am NOT a shy person or someone who’s easily intimidated. This guy makes me nervous. I don’t trust him. And they’re not following some pretty basic BSA rules. Because of the lack of youth leadership, for example, I don’t observe the scouts interacting and collaborating as they should, so I think “making friends” is a stretch. Apparently the SPL had to fight with the SM just to lead a meeting or two (on knife and ax safety). That should not be the case. I don’t think this is an environment that will be changing. We will therefore be visiting other troops with an open mind. We shall see. Ultimately it has to be up to our son, but as his parents, we will definitely give him our assessment of things.

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Posted (edited)

Sadly, these situations don't have an easy answer.  Scouting is great when the magic mix of friendships, adventure and fulfilling the program comes together.  When two of the three happens, it can be painful.  

My only comment ...  Your son's scouting career is short.

  • Help him find the positive. 
    • Perhaps it means you and your son sign up for special scouting adventures you both can find.  It's not the perfect scouting idea, but he can be in the realm of scouting and have great experiences.  EXAMPLE:  Go to summer camp with a single camper program that many summer camps offer.  Sometimes these can be great experiences.  Look for other adventures.  
  • Perhaps it means protecting your scout from his own SM.  That's sad, but it might be necessary.  
  • Perhaps it means letting your son solve his own problems with the SM.
  • Perhaps if your son like the troop generally, maybe it will give him his best scouting experiences.  

I cringe at what you describe.  If your son is already butting heads with the SM, it might grow worse.  I'd hope your son would be looking up to the SM as an example.  If that's not happening, I'd really want to change. 

I'm babbling because there is no clear easy answer.  ... except it is okay to protect your son and help him find the right path.

Edited by fred8033
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Sharing a personal story here, it may or may not help.

I started scouts in a troop which was very active, the SM was great, the patrols operated independently, I had fun with all the other guys.

After a couple years I visited another troop with my father. I knew some of these guys from school, but not many. The troop was ok. It didn't seem like it was better than the other. I went on a campout with them. I had a good time (I think?) I did make some new friends quite quickly. I do not recall ever going back to the other troop for a meeting. We just switched to the new troop. I do not recall at the time "missing the other troop" as I was having a good time with the new guys.

Many years later I was having a conversation with my father and the old troop came up. He asked if I knew why we changed. I did not. He did not give me many details but said it was a safety issue; something about inappropriate firearms use. It might have been on a campout I did not attend. I do not know.

My point of the story is that even though I was having a good time in my old troop, and the troop operated quite well, the safety issue was a non-negotiable for my father and we switched troops without me even knowing why. As a scout, doing scouting things with other kids I didn't even realize it or apparently care. I know I adapt to change quite easily, so that could be why it really did not faze me at the time. 

Good luck!

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@fred8033I thank you and everyone else for their kind, thoughtful responses. I appreciate it. I agree with you in the sense that we do not foresee the SM changing and he is apparently a difficult person to interact with. He isn’t going anywhere, either. While we don’t expect any scouter to be a perfect person, that person should nevertheless be approachable, supportive, and respectful. S/he should also follow BSA rules. For us, those are minimum standards of behavior. We also see some other fairly glaring problems with the troop which when added up and contextualized, don’t look good for the future. At 11, he has 7 years left and needs to be someplace that will (1) be supportive and respectful , (2) follows the rules, and (3) is active (monthly camping, etc.).

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@DuctTapeThank you for your story. That actually does help. Our son is young enough that perhaps that will be his long-term memory, too. The weird thing is that we feel a little baited and switched. Long story short, during/as a result of lockdown nonsense, packs collapsed (largely due to losing meeting space and difficulty meeting), so my youngest two kids really burned through units. It was extremely frustrating just to get them to cross over. My son finally finished cubs in the pack associated with his current troop. The contact person for this pack was the son of the associated troop’s SM. The same individual is ASM at the troop and he was the main contact person for the troop, too. He was a good communicator, polite, and both units were organized. It was an easy decision to go to that troop. In recent months, his father, who is actually the SM (and who at first we barely knew existed) seems to have reasserted himself, and the problems I have mentioned started to become evident. Unlike his son, the SM is not a good communicator, he is not organized, he is brusk, he can be rude, he is controlling, and he runs meetings. Had we known and seen this a year ago, our son probably would not have ever crossed into the troop.

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4 hours ago, AScoutIsHonest said:

 At 11, he has 7 years left ...

Calendar wise, yes.  Timing wise so things happen well, no.  There is a short window of 2 to 3 years when habits and the scouting experience is imprinted.

Generalizations ...

  • 16 & 17 years old ... lots of distractions ... girls, gas, jobs, school, graduation, applying for college ... for scouting, your son will have "habits" on how scouting works ... few scouts change habits during these years ... most can grow experiences or skill or leadership  ... good time for adventure
  • 13, 14 & 15 years old ... executing what you learned ... good time for scouts to show leadership in their troop ... learning to lead, stepping up
  • 11 & 12 years old ... this is where those new to scouting are still forming habits.  ... learning how the program works

I've taken four sons through scouting until they turned 18.  The years go quick.  The timing is critical.  If things derail, it's really hard to get them back on track before the magic time window is closed.  I can't say any of my sons had an ideal scouting career through their years, but they all had adventures and grew character and learned skills.  One of my son's friends had his connection to the troop implode when they were 13(??).  Out of support, my son switched troops with his friend.  The journey was very different.  BUT, it was still a great journey.  

It's like high school football.  You can always join in 7th grade or 9th grade or 11th grade, but it's harder to become a starter.  The time window is short.  Most do best by following a common pattern that starts in the earliest of years. 

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On 6/4/2022 at 1:49 PM, fred8033 said:

Calendar wise, yes.  Timing wise so things happen well, no.  There is a short window of 2 to 3 years when habits and the scouting experience is imprinted.

Generalizations ...

  • 16 & 17 years old ... lots of distractions ... girls, gas, jobs, school, graduation, applying for college ... for scouting, your son will have "habits" on how scouting works ... few scouts change habits during these years ... most can grow experiences or skill or leadership  ... good time for adventure
  • 13, 14 & 15 years old ... executing what you learned ... good time for scouts to show leadership in their troop ... learning to lead, stepping up
  • 11 & 12 years old ... this is where those new to scouting are still forming habits.  ... learning how the program works

I've taken four sons through scouting until they turned 18.  The years go quick.  The timing is critical.  If things derail, it's really hard to get them back on track before the magic time window is closed.  I can't say any of my sons had an ideal scouting career through their years, but they all had adventures and grew character and learned skills.  One of my son's friends had his connection to the troop implode when they were 13(??).  Out of support, my son switched troops with his friend.  The journey was very different.  BUT, it was still a great journey.  

It's like high school football.  You can always join in 7th grade or 9th grade or 11th grade, but it's harder to become a starter.  The time window is short.  Most do best by following a common pattern that starts in the earliest of years. 

I think cold starting or restarting Scouting is WAY harder than jumping into sports late. The bureaucracy of Scouting is SO massive, there are so many ins-and-outs to learn about the process; there are hordes of personalities to learn, and learn how to manage. 

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40 minutes ago, Tron said:

I think cold starting or restarting Scouting is WAY harder than jumping into sports late. The bureaucracy of Scouting is SO massive, there are so many ins-and-outs to learn about the process; there are hordes of personalities to learn, and learn how to manage. 

I've observed "cold starting" scouts do just as well as scouts who've been in since crossing over. They're coming in a couple of years older. They're a little more mature. Their reading comprehension is better. Such scouts have done a lot for the life of our troop. They are also very helpful because they question bureaucracy, and every once in a while, they're right!

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On 6/13/2022 at 11:17 AM, qwazse said:

I've observed "cold starting" scouts do just as well as scouts who've been in since crossing over. They're coming in a couple of years older. They're a little more mature. Their reading comprehension is better. Such scouts have done a lot for the life of our troop. They are also very helpful because they question bureaucracy, and every once in a while, they're right!

You're probably doing a lot for the Scout instead of letting the Scout learn through the patrol method. 

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