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lrwebb

First Class First Year

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Hi. I am an ASM at Troop20 in Knoxville, TN. I have my second son in scouting and have volunteered to shepard his patrol through the first year. We strive in Troop 20 to reach first class in the first year. We have been quite successful thanks to the wonderful leadership of our Scout Master and the experianced scouters that help the troop. Our senior members of the troop do a great job teaching the skills. I mostly just have to create a schedule of what will happen when and with all the outings our troop does, most of the rest just falls into place.

Every program can benefit from the experience of others. It surprised me not to find a forum dedicated to this. I propose a new forum be created to help those of us who are working with the new scouts to discuss the issues specific to this program.

 

What do you think?

 

Yours in scouting,

ASM Larry Webb

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Hi Larry and Welcome to the forum.

It sounds like you guys have really got your act together.

I don't know if there is a need for a new area to discuss First Class. If you have something you want to bring up, just throw it out there. The fine people in this forum are in no way shy, they will let you know what they think.

Eamonn.

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1. I'm an Eagle Scout and the Scoutmaster in my son's troop, and he's "only" a Second Class Scout after the first year. Many (but not all) of his fellow Scouts in his age group have earned the First Class Scout badge. Although it IS preferable to have all the Scouts in a patrol go through the first three ranks together, it is not necessary. Each Scout will progress at his own speed (including the son of the Scoutmaster). I think that SCOUTERS push the Scouts too fast; it should be the SCOUT who says he's ready for advancement.

 

2. I've actually seen many Scouts in our troop achieve Life Scout after 2 years, but are they "mature" enough for Eagle Scout? Heck, no! A Scout has up to 7 full years in which to try for Eagle Scout -- what's the rush? It's not like Cub Scouting (where a Scout has only one year to achieve Wolf, Bear, etc. before it's too late).

 

3. My Second Class Scout son is going to summer camp with his First Class Scout patrol-mates, and is going to work on Merit Badges. It doesn't matter whether he's "on the same level" as the other Scouts -- I don't care. To me, it's more important to have my son MATURE and LEARN about life, rather than try to just "fill the squares" to make Eagle Scout.(This message has been edited by dluders)

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I couldn't agree more. Every scout (and their families!) mature in scouting at different rates. When I say "our goal" I mean exactly that. We like to offer all the opportunites to advance to first class. It is up to the scout and their family as to how they take advantage of these opportunites. I have one scout who has a very motivated family but he has yet to complete first class after two years. He is not motivated. I have another scout also a second year who is second class who tries his hardest but his family is not motivated and thus he is unable to take advantage of all the opportunites. Plus we have the whole range in between. We have confidence though that all the scouts will progress at their own pace and we will be there to support them at any and every stage.

 

I agree about summer camp. They enjoy earning the merit badges and spending time with their friends talking and growing. That is part of why I work so hard during the rest of the year. Our camp (Camp Buck Toms) offers a Dan Beard course and we have considered the idea of having the new scouts take that instead of merit badges. This is a good idea perhaps for scouts that joined late and want to catch up or if there is not a scouter to shepard the new patrols. I would rather let them spend time in merit badges and make the rest of the year working through the requirements.

 

Do all the scouts make first class first year? Of course not. Usually around 50%. But I will take it. Probably about another 25% complete the requirements in the second year. I think my real motivation is to make the first year a "first class year" and not just an achievment of rank.

 

Continued good luck with your troop!

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The whole Webelos II to First Year Scout transition can be a difficult process for many boys and their parents, and yet, it really is the critical link to establish continued participation in the scouting program. Thanks for the reminder and congrats on your program.

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While I agree that each and every Scout will advance at his own rate or speed.

I also strongly believe that having Scouts make First Class Scout, within a 12 -18 month period has to be a Troop goal.

Of course some Lads are more motivated than others, but isn't providing motivation something that Troops leaders provide?

If Mr. Scoutmaster wakes up one day and sees that the entire new Scout patrol isn't advancing and they have been in the Troop for over a year, I would hope that this would be seen as clear signal that something isn't working.

Summer camp should be the high point of the year. A time when we pull all the stops out. A time when fun and adventure steps up to the plate.The real fun and adventure starts when the skills needed to be a First Class Scout are mastered. Lads should be able to be self-programing at summer camp, the older Scouts know what they want to do and how to go about doing it. The younger Lads will need help. Surely this is a job for the Troop Guide?

Talking as a parent I would much sooner my kid came home from Summer camp having gone through a well ran First Year Camper Program, which really covered the skills needed to be a First Class Scout, than a Basketry Merit Badge, which he only done because everyone told him that it was easy. My Son has the Basketry Merit Badge, which he did at a summer camp. To date he hasn't looked at a basket since.

Eamonn.

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I think that 'First Class First Year' (FCFY) is a slightly misguided program.

 

It is based on studies that show that youth who hit First Class early tend to stay in longer, just as studies show that youth that summer camp their fist year stay in longer.

 

I believe that the REAL connection is that units with strong activity programs retain youth better, regardless of rank.

 

I've seen abuses of the FCFY program, similar to those for the big Eagle push- campouts entirely geared towards advancement and 'filling boxes', entire meetings dedicated to merit badge classes (and all to often, the boy is passed as much for attendence as for actually doing anything), summer camp programs that make 'earning stuff' a higher priority than having fun.

 

I also think we have somewhat cheapened what used to be an honorable rank, denoting great status in the unit. I KNOW this is not universal, but I have seen all too many First Class Scouts unable to perform basic Scoutcraft tasks at least in part because they attained the rank so fast there was no TRUE learning taking place- no reinforcement, etc.

 

Some units I have been involved with that really PUSH FCFY also tend to be a bit... 'lax' in their signing off and BORs- so as many boys as possible can hit the goal.

 

Personally, I'd rather see a Scout hit First Class on the timetable they come up with during the Scoutmaster's conference than based on a more arbitrary schedule.

 

Having said that, I am also a big fan of 'what works, WORKS!'. If FCFY is working for you- solid retention, good attendence, great program, etc.- Go for it!!!`

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While not trying to be disagreeable or in any way judgmental.

But is making First Class Scout in about a year that much of a stretch?

When I look at the requirements,I fail to see why a Lad in a well organized Troop, which is offering a decent program should have a hard time. If anything the hold up I hear about the most is the swimming requirement.

Eamonn.

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I think there is a bit of a chicken-or-egg problem here. Is the fact that most scouts obtain FCFY in a troop evidence of a good, active program, or does emphasizing FCFY generate a good program?

I have to agree that in a good, active program, it should not be too hard for scouts to achieve FCFY, as long as the troop leaders organize some particular events the boys will need (like an orienteering course, and swimming). It ought to be quite easy if the year includes a week at camp. But you have to be careful about extrapolating that fact to specific situations. Thus:

1. The fact that all the new scouts in a troop make FCFY is not sufficient evidence in itself of a good program. It could be a "FC mill," or not boy run, or no fun.

2. The fact that some, but all of the new scouts in the troop make FCFY doesn't tell you too much, except that the troop at least has an active enough program to make it possible.

3. If none of the new scouts in the troop make FCFY that may be a sign of a problem with the program, but not necessarily. They may have dropped the ball on a couple of advancement opportunities, but might otherwise have an excellent program.

I guess I'd say percentage of scouts reaching FCFY is a good way for a troop to do self-analysis, but you need more info to analyze another unit.

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Lots of good post guys, well done. My observation is the problem simply came from calling it a "First Class in the First Year" program. One example of a typical attitude was from a friend of mine. The only other Scouting experiences he had prier to becoming a SM was two years as the Committee Chair of our Cub Pack, so he was started almost from no understanding of Boy Scouts. When he read the Scoutmasters Handbook and went to training, he came back with the idea that he must get all his scouts to first class in the first year for himself to be considered successful. Four years later he told me that he missed the point completely. I found this a fairly common approach by many Troops.

 

In the old days, you can go back as far as you want, but in the old days the First Class rank was recognition of the maturity of a scout who mastered the skills required to survive in the woods by himself.

 

In general, if the boy is left to his own, his maturity will dictate the rate at which he learns all the skills to be a First Class Scout. By the time his becomes a first class scout, he also has the maturity for a scout that can survive in the woods on his own. The problem with FCFY is that it suggest all boys are mature enough to be First Class scouts with in the first year of their experience. This same problem is hurting the OA program in our area.

 

I think we all agree that the real intent of the troop program is for the adults to responsibly develop a quality program where all the scouts can learn skills as fast as they want. The program should be as welcome to scouts who want to get first class in six months as it is scouts that are in no hurry. Now I do agree with Eamonn that a SM must recognize and guide those scouts who are taking their own sweet time, but I'm sure Eamonn agrees the concern should be the scouts maturity, not his rank.

 

I can remember a scout who was in no hurry to advance. He blew off all his classes at summer camp and instead went swimming, hiking, running and all those things that eleven year olds love to do. He was independent enough that he didnt want to follow the crowd, but he was also was not mature enough to sit in classes. Today he would tell you that was his best summer camp. I watched and worked with the scout enough to see he was just having a lot of fun being a boy scout. Something I feel a lot of adults completely miss today. He was not looking to leaveg our troop. A year later he decided he wanted to be a first class scout, so he started calling older scouts to help him earn that rank. That scout went to Oklahoma University last year with the help of Eagle Scholarship. If I were to brag about the program this scout grew up in, it is that when he was ready, he knew where and who to go for help. To me, that is a program of maturity.

 

Here is the question. What should we suggest makes a quality program for first year scouts?

 

A few suggestions I have are:

 

1. Develop a troop where scouts are rewarded for seeking out help to learn skills.

 

2. Develop a program that doesnt rely on outside programs to advance like summer camps or MB Mills. This is a major problem in our District.

 

3. Develop a program where the scout has plenty of opportunities to ask for help.

 

4. Develop the program where the older scouts understand their responsibility to help the younger scouts grow and advance.

 

5. Develop a program where the adults dont take the scouts advancement personally be it too slow or too fast. Ignore a time line and instead make sure the program provides quality skills instruction.

 

6. Honor First Class Scouts as an achievement of full independence and responsibility in the Troop.

 

 

Have a great scouting day.

 

Barry

 

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First let's clarify something. First Class First Year is not a program, it is an award certificate. The program planning tool is called First Class Emphasis.

 

The purpose of First Class Emphasis is to give the troop's adult leadership the resources and direction to have a planned, focused, program that will allow a new scout to learn, practice, and apply the skills needed to become a First Class Scout within the first 12 to 14 months of his membership in the troop.

 

Considering only the points I have just shared can anyone tell us what possible negative attributes there are to this program planning method?(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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Boy, this is a subject near and dear to my heart since our troop is getting ready to turn one year old in a couple of weeks. All but one of the boys who started our new troop has "earned" 1st class. They technically earned the check-offs for each requirement. If maturity were a requirement, I'm not sure they would even be Tenderfoot yet. They have been and continue to be a real challenge. Many of the Webelos who crossed over to our troop this spring show more maturity than our "older" scouts. I think I understand what Barry is saying and like what he is saying. There is the very strong sentiment out there in Scouter land that we have a responsibility to get the boys to 1st class in the first year. Our SM more or less shares that sentiment, but he also preaches to them that by becoming a 1st class scout, BSA considers them to be a capable scout in their skills and to lead by example and in training the newer scouts. I agree with him.......but many of them still lack the maturity to be what he considers a 1st class scout should be. Again, technically they earned the rank. We only had one boy who "qualified" for election into OA during the last election cycle. He is the most immature of the bunch. The good thing and also the sad thing is that the boys recognize their own immaturity. The boys knew how immature this scout is and after the election team expalined the procedures, the boy didn't get a single vote. They re-explained the procedures and voted again. I have a hunch that he didn't get any votes again, but he DID get called out at camporee. He was selected as the ASPL as the lesser of two evils and was removed from the position about a month later because of behavior problems. Maturity is a judgement call, but pretty much a no brainer too. Oh how I wish there were a maturity requirement for 1st class. However, with the exception of one or two scouts, I fear we wouldn't have a 1st class scout out of our original scouts for several more years!!! Perhaps there is something to not pushing boys to achieve the rank and letting them advance at their own pace as long as we always provide a program that ensures ample opportunity to advance as quickly as desired by the boy.

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>>Considering only the points I have just shared can anyone tell us what possible negative attributes there are to this program planning method?

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There are none Bob. The problem is the way the emphasis gets transmitted and interpreted by some Scouters into thinking something is wrong if they do not achieve what they percieve as a goal of producing 1st class scouts in 12 months or less.

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