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lrwebb

First Class First Year

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Beaver,

Why do you suppose some scouters "get it" and some don't?

 

The basic leaders training for advancement says that you teach a skill and test a skill. How can a scout 'rush' to first class and not have the skills if the program is being done correctly in the troop with the teaching and testing phases?

 

If the scout does not learn it or cannot do it, then who is signing the handbooks?! The problem would seem to be not in the scout or the program but the administration and use of the program in the secific unit.

 

Maturity is not a requirement for any rank in scouting. Maturity is the result of experiences and evryones experiences are different. In fact a person can be mature in some areas of their thought and behaviour and immature in others. How in fact do you measure maturity objectively? Rather than worry about something that isn't a requirement, the First Class Emphasis plan is to focus on an active program that is based on those things that actually are the requirements.

 

What specific hurdles exist in a unit that can keep this from happening other than leaders who do not understand, or reject, the BSA program methods?

 

 

 

(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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Imagine if the emphasis were called "First Year Fun!" The program could emphasize how important it is for a scout's first year with the program to be a full, exciting, and fun program, with lots of opportunities to learn and use Scout skills. It could have the same elements, and could, if followed, lead to First Class in the First Year--but the emphasis would be about the Scout's experience, not his advancement--which I think is the point of the program anyway.

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"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet."

 

(Perhaps I am not as "lowly taught" as I have been accused of)

 

I do not see how merely changing the title will alter the ability of the adult leaders. The scouting program and the advancement method have always been taught as the prize inside a wrapping of fun and adventure. This is refered to at every level of training and in nearly every related BSA resource.

 

The way to make this prohgram work is by changing leaders not titles. Until a scout leaders has the understanding of how to deliver the BSA program and the willingness to follow the program then no label change will have the desired effect.

 

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Bob: Why do you suppose some scouters "get it" and some don't?

 

Because they are all individuals just like your example of how some people are mature in some aspects of life and immature in others. No one is going to "get it" all the time in all things.

 

I don't disagree with what you are saying and I believe I said that maturity was a judgement call. The only place that allows for a judgement call of any kind in scouting is Scout Spirit during the SM conference. I'm not suggesting that maturity be included in requirements. I was just giving my opinion that in a perfect world, it would be nice if the end product of a 1st class scout were a mature boy capable of taking care of himself independently and able to pass it along to the scouts coming after him. Our immature 1st class scouts learned and were tested on each requirement up thru 1st class. They passed the test and had the requirement checked off. Yet, each campout is almost like starting over from scratch with some of them. I know part of it is age and maturity. They've been told not to throw rocks, not to run in camp, not to whack trees with sticks they pick up, etc. They've had the pep talks about the oath and law and scoutlike behavior and to please explain how that action is within the oath and law. We just had our Jamboree shakedown this past weekend. I am one of the contingent leaders and there are four boys from our troop who are participants. Only one out of the four had an inkling about how to tie the knots needed for the wall tents and dining fly. They learned them for rank, but with EZ-ups and dome tents, they really have little need for knots. Yes, we sometimes have knot relay games to help them maintain the skills, but they don't use them in the real world where they can retain the knowledge. Therefore, they can't pass it along to the new scouts. Same with cooking. We require them to cook every campout. Not reheat food, but prepare and cook fresh foods. They have been taught and retaught how to cook and they act like they wake up in a new world on every campout. We've tried to make it fun. I've put on hands on demos at troop meetings of different types of cooking methods and how to have foods they want like pizza in camp. They continue to crank the fire up to full blast in an effort to cook "faster" and have destroyed a number of pans. In contrast, our new scouts cooked fried chicken on their first campout with a minimum of adult supervision. So I ask, do you test and test and test until you are satisfied that they really know the skill or do you sign off if they are able to do it one time. Honestly, many of the boys have as bad of a check off mentality as some adults do. I read about it, I learned it long enough to pass the test and I don't ever have to worry about being able to do it again........until the next campout of course.

 

Bob, there is plenty of blame to go around for everyone involved. I've seen as many slacker Scouters as I have Scouts. I've also seen a good number of Scouters who know their scouting skills backwards and forwards and have an excellent ability to teach those skills. I've seen boys who take a real interest and have wonderful retention abilities while you have other boys that make you wonder how they have managed to stay alive as long as they have.

 

I know I've rambled all over the place. I guess what I'm trying to say is that the perception of some Scouters is that 1st class/1st year is some sort of mandate to churn out 1st class scouts or they are not doing their job without any regard to allowing a boy to advance at his own pace and making sure that he really understands the skill he is being tested on and would be able to use it personally and teach it to other people.

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There is no mandate to churn out 1st Class scouts. the mandate is to have a planned directed program that will make the first year active, interesting and rewarding so that we do not have the results that so many units are having who do not use the First Class Emphasis Program...boys leaving the program in less than a year.

 

If we agree that the problem is that all leaders do not have the same ability or knowledge then rather than change the name or the program lets change the leaders, insist on more training in your community, make sure the training syllabii are followed, mentor a scout leader in the real BSA program. Improve your leadership selection process.

 

Rather than lower the program lets raise the leadership.

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If we are gonna agree that all leaders don't have the same ability or knowledge then we must also agree not all boys have the same ability or knowledge. And if that is true, then there will be those boys who will not earn 1st Class in 12-18 months. Not all boys can swim & this seems to be a big reason why some don't advance!

 

I know someone posted once that it has been proved that boys who earn 1st Class in 12-18 months stay in Scouting at a higher rate than those who don't. Well, I'm from Missouri so show me the numbers!

 

Ed Mori

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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Ed - I too am a skeptic when it comes to percentages. Maybe it's because I minored in the subject, and know you can manipulate them pretty easily. This one reminds me of something I heard a while back. A dean of a college who was responsible for extracurriculur activities was aspousing the importance of them, stating that students who participated in extracturriculur acttivities had a higher GPA. What he failed to mention was that students had to maintain a 2.5 GPA to participate. Therefore, the population set he was pulling from naturally had a higher GPA. I believe the FC/FY statistic suffers from a similar flaw.

 

With that said, I still believe in the concept. We structure our annual program such that an active scout can easily obtain First Class during his first year. However, it doesn't guarantee it. It still requires the boy to do his part.

 

Our program is structured like this... The first couple of months are centered around tenderfoot basics (with a few 2nd class & 1st class items thrown in). We take it pretty easy on them, most of it is spoonfed to them. After all, they have tender feet. If they participate, do their part, and give it a good effort, they'll likely advance quite easily. Most of the Scouts earn Tenderfoot in the first 2-3 months.

 

Second Class takes a little more time. We expect them to truly demonstrate the skills necessary. Some initiative is required to complete these requirements. Most of the guys take 2-6 months to earn it. But some take the entire first year.

 

By the time they've reached 2nd class, we've covered most everything all the way through first class (most of it twice). But it takes more individual effort to complete these requirements. For example, we don't bring in a bunch of timbers and have them make a camp gadget one night. We tell them that they need to do it on an upcoming campout and present it to a leader for signoff. We don't bring a community leader in for them each to interview, we expect them to set up an appointment, interview the person and report back what they talked about. Therefore, I see scouts sit at 2nd class for quite a while sometimes. It's because, for many the first time, they are solely responsible for completing the work. And, for some, it takes a while to get there. Therefore, most kids I've worked with, take 12-18 months to earn First Class, and I've seen them take up to two years.

 

Our First Year scouts who came in two years ago were pretty motivated. 2/3 of them completed First Class in 11-14 months. This past year's group, however, are very laid back. They're smart kids, just not real motivated. We're nearly 15 months in, and we're only about to get the first FC out of them. The other eight boys are all still very involved, and I expect most of them will wrap it up in the Summer, but I wouldn't be surprised to see them take longer. It's just a different set of personalities and values.

 

But isn't that what life is about? We all bring different capabilities to the table. It teaches them some real life lessons about reaping what you sow. I'll continue presenting a program that emphasizes First Class, but I won't measure our success on the percentage that actually complete it in under 365 days.

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EagleInKY,

I feel the same way you do about statistics. I work with numbers all day, too! I really want to see if anyone knows if there are actual numbers to back up the claim!

 

Ed Mori

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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Eagle

I think what national was trying to affect was the retention rate of new scouts that first year because they were experiencing huge membership losses and still are at three pivotal times in the scouting timeline.

 

The results I think have been noticable for those who are aware of the 1st Class emphasis program and understand its use VS. its misuse.

 

In fact we did a survey on this forum which showed that troops who did use the program had larger memberships in the troop and had higher retention rates after 1 year than the troops that did not.

 

I think knowing the percentage of scouts who achieve 1-st class within the first 12 to 14 months is valuable comparison information when juxtaposed to the percentage of new scouts who are still active after one year.

 

Comparing the two bits of data should tell you if you are getting the expected results.

 

The problem again arises of determining who just says they use it, who uses it by name but not correctly, and who actually uses it. That is why the results are best measured on an individual unit basis then on a national level.

 

(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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Its also a documented fact that the children of leaders stay in longer, earn higher rank, participate more, and have better attendence. Perhaps this should also become the foundation of a program?

 

 

 

OK, lets switch gears a bit... Is First Class today the same award it was before the big 1972 transition? First Class used to be a big deal. Scouts who earned it were a bit older and it was often required for at least some leadership positions. Is a First Class Scout today REALLY a 'first-class' Scout?

 

My old handbooks are packed away right now, but if anyone is interested, I'll gladly post a comparison of the 1960's requirements to the current. I'll also be happy to post the requirements for other periods back to about 1930 (my collection of handbooks does not go back beyond that, except for some reprints of the first BSA handbook.)

 

Is Star or Life the 'new' First Class?

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"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet."

 

If this were really true, everybody in advertising would be out of a job. Seriously, because this is an "emphasis," I do think it is important how it is presented and "sold" to unit leaders. I think the way it is currently named contributes to a likely misunderstanding, that the emphasis is about achieving the rank in the first year. After all, the whole program is named after the rank--it's not surprising that people would think it's the rank that's of primary importance, rather than the experience.

As I said before, I think the emphasis is a good self-analysis tool--it makes us ask ourselves if we're really providing an active enough program, and the failure of boys to advance is pretty good evidence that we're falling down in that respect. It also reminds some people that they shouldn't hold back advancement.

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>>I think what national was trying to affect was the retention rate of new scouts that first year because they were experiencing huge membership losses and still are at three pivotal times in the scouting timeline.

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I think you point out again that the problem is in the way some leader ignore or misuse the program. Nowhere does the BSa teach to rush scouts through the ranks without actually learning and displaying skills. The leaders who sign the books without properly teaching or testing are to blame not the program.

 

If you look at the units with the best retention you will see units with active frst year program where scouts are advancing. look at units that are shrinking and you will not find that kind of program.

 

The purpose for First Class Emphasis is to focus leaders in the right place. You cannot be a good scout without basic scouting skills to build on. But you can be a good scout without ever achieving the Eagle rank. The 'emphasis' on advancement is First Class, without it most boys will quit (the cause of 1/3 of our membership problems) our current. You cannot teach scouting to students who have quit the first year.

 

You are correct that the scouts need to learn the difference between Cubs and Scouts and get comfortablew in their new role. That is what the New Scout Patrol does and yet some leaders refuse to do that either.

 

The tool box is in each persons hands, the all the tools needed are provided, the problem is that not everyone wants to use them.

 

 

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Just an idea to share...

 

Eagledad mentioned 'individual independence' and that is one of the things we're working on in our troop.

Boy leader training includes the SM meeting with the new SPL for a short time right away and giving him a task to perform and report back when accomplished. Then, the SPL repeats that by giving each PL a task and report back.

We are pushing that down another level to each new scout by having the Troop Guide give each one a task and report back. Then, follow up with praise from the TG and SM and another task to perform. These first tasks are simple, such as 'call the SM for your Scout badge SM conference in the next 2 weeks' or 'choose one tenderfoot requirement, do it, and come to me to sign off by the next troop meeting'.

We've had good success with using this training for the troop leaders so the hope is it will work just as well on new scouts - so far it seems to. Just small first steps along the trail.

 

Paul

 

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