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BrentAllen

Setting Expectations, Attendance

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When you're talking about high school juniors and seniors, folks really should walk a mile in their shoes...

 

- They're trying to help their parents save for college, so they're taking AP and dual credit courses. Those only cost about $40/credit hour. I don't know about LisaBob's college, but Mizzou, where EagleSon will go, charges $236 per credit hour. He had looked at Creighton up in Omaha... they charge $1000 a credit hour.

 

- Their coursework (I'm talking basic classes) includes offsites. Intro to Forensics at our school requires participation in a two-day tournament. That requirement is worth a "Full Letter Grade." In other words, if you had a B, but you didn't go to tournament, you now have a C.

 

- Their participation in interest classes includes offsites: Participation in Concert Choir (our 2d choir) requires attendance at Regional Large Group Music Festival. Kiss a Saturday goodbye.

 

- Their coursework requires service hours, done outside the school day: Intro to environmental science includes a full day offsite at the area nature trail, doing all the mundane maintenance tasks you'd expect, since lots of Scout Troops do similar projects.

 

- We'll not even talk about competitions and festivals for the kid who is starting to get good at what he does.

 

I'm not talking about jobs. I'm not talking about girlfriends. I'm not talking about Prom/Homecoming/Courtwarming ... or even the parades associated with them. I'm not even talking about college sponsored events, which in some cases have scholarship dollars tied off to them. I'm talking about academic stuff, on the curriculum, and approved by the District as curricular in nature.

 

EagleSon doesn't have TIME to have senioritis this year. He's carrying 13 semester hours dual credit load. He's a B student doing that. I know a couple of kids in the running for valedictorian who are carrying 20+ semester hours.

 

Actually, I think it's a good thing that some of our youth are balancing their loads and being selective about what they attend. That's about the last lesson we can teach kids... how to balance competing interests.

 

Personal to Lisa: I really amn't picking on you. I think some of your parents need to understand though, as I discovered the hard way when EagleSon got to high school, that high school today isn't what it was even 15 years ago.(This message has been edited by John-in-KC)

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In my son's troop, there is a boy who hasn't been attending regularly. However, we noticed that the few times he showed up included all the times heavy work was to be done, including helping at Eagle projects, and participating in our fundraiser, which involves a lot of labor. After thinking about this, we have trouble criticizing him very much.

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It's good that there are different styles of troops available. For those who are dedicated to scouting above all other organizations, BrentAllen's troop would be a perfect fit. For others, like my boys, a troop that tolerates absences is the only kind that would work.

 

In my school district band and choir are considered academic classes which have some required weekend events. Even my 6th grader had a couple weekend band concerts and competitions that he was required to attend. About the only acceptable excuse for missing one of these events is illness, so both my boys have missed some scouting camp-outs due to band committments. My boys want to be in scouts and band, and I'm not going to make them choose one over the other. Now, my sons have chosen to skip a soccer (or other sport) game in order to go on a scout camp-out, but it's not an option to skip out on academic events.

 

None of our extended family live in the same state as we do, so our boys sometimes miss scout events due to family travels. Again, I'd hate to deny my boys the chance to be in scouts simply because they aren't as regular in attending as those who don't travel, and don't belong to other organizations.

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I always tell the new parents when joining the troop, that we don't expect their son to make all the meetings. But, if they miss too many, they will not benefit as much from the program - that they get out of it what they put it.

 

I've got so many different kinds of scouts in my troop that it would be hard to expect them all to show up 100% of the time. There are one's who really love scouting and seem to make it to every meeting - this is the group that the Eagle scouts come from. Then there are the seasonal scouts who play baseball, football, etc. Then there are the scouts who's parents only allow them to attend their meeting if there homework is done!

 

All are welcome in my troop. We keep the one's who miss meetings informed through emails and our web site. Scouts that miss a few meetings in a row get a call from their patrol leader (or SPL) to find out why.

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The bottom line is that things like school football, baseball, wrestling, mountain bike racing clubs etc are cooler and when kids start reaching age 15-16 girls and other things noramlly become more interesting... it sometimes is that scout activities are viewed as somewhat optional where things like team sports have a rigid schedule and expectations period.

 

I think that says a lot.

 

When they get to high school, things that require commitment become more interesting. They're old enough that they can focus. They can really get good at somethin', and they like that feelin'. A committed program means they also aren't held back as much by uncommitted / weaker players. They're proud to be in it because it's a commitment, and it's hard, and it makes 'em work hard and really improve. Sports, band, theater, extracurriculars,... all commitments.

 

Scouting, if it doesn't demand a commitment, is like gettin' together with friends to go to a movie. Yeh do it if you have time, yeh skip if you don't. No big deal. It's fun to hang out.

 

But it ain't somethin' that takes real effort or that makes yeh proud.

 

Is that really what we want Scoutin' to be?

 

I personally have never seen a unit that has high expectations for youth (including participation) suffer for it. It's funny and yeh wouldn't figure, but those units are always stronger and have more members. Kids are proud to be part of somethin' that requires commitment.

 

Beavah

 

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I have no doubt that requiring our scouts to be fully committed to the program above all other activities would enhance our program. Nothing holds back a good program as when you have a low turnout at campouts and meetings. It really bugs me.

 

However, if we implimented that strategy to the scouts in my unit, we would lose at least 50% to band and sports right off. My son included. They can't do both as they frequently conflict with meeting nights and weekends. It's not negotiable to miss marching band practice or ball games, especially in high school.

Most of these boys are in multiple sports and extra curricula activities throughout the year. Not to mention homework which frequently becomes an excuse for missing meetings, especially near the end of the semester.

 

We'd probably lose another 10% who just don't want to commit. These are the scouts who we really wouldn't miss anyways as they never really participate much, just show up because their parents demand it.

 

These lost scouts will probably find another unit that didn't have stringent attendance requirements.

 

Now it might make the remaining scouts more committed and we might actually have a better program for them in the end. Just much smaller. So who wins?

 

Perhaps we need both types of units, one like Brents for those scouts who are fully dedicated to the program, and one for everyone else.

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B and Gern,

 

I think B has a good point: If the high expectations include strength of program delivered, you'll find those HS kids there.

 

That's where we come in... if the older Scouts say "we want to hike two weeks on the Appalachian", and the PLC says No or the Committee says "we cannot support it," then you deserve every kid who walks away that you get. That's all the more so if they're willing to get to a trailhead using less expensive ways of travel, and they offer up the compromises.

 

Equally, if there's a unit with good progam but some degree of "plug and play," there will also be folks who look at it and align their participation as needed.

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Yah, Gern, I'm curious.

 

Do yeh see any troops/crews/council contingents that run high adventure activities?

 

Typically high adventure trips require commitment - must attend prep trips, must have first aid certification, etc.

 

Seems like those hyper-involved lads don't have trouble makin' those work.

 

I've never seen Scouting as a "drop in" activity myself. Dat's what the YMCA is for, eh? The band and sports kids around here don't seem to have trouble managin' and negotiatin' to make things work in high-commitment programs, and yah, they even find once they get past freshman year that those "non-negotiable" band events really are negotiable most of da time. I'm goin' to an ECOH this weekend for a lad who runs track and cross country, also is in "advanced band/orchestra", wrote for the paper, took advanced classes, and served as SPL for an active program where he participated in at least 4 high adventure trips and met BA's expectations.

 

I think we sell ourselves and our kids short whenever we claim they "can't" do somethin'. Them because every time I've thought a lad wasn't able to do something he's proved me wrong. Ourselves because I'm never sure why it's OK to blow off a Scoutin' activity run by a volunteer but not OK to skip an activity run by a professional who's paid lots of $$ to be there. Maybe we should charge more and get paid, then folks would accept us as a "commitment.!"

 

I wonder if it's OK for da SM to only show up occasionally, because, after all, he's got a full-time job, and a family, and professional commitments, and....

 

Beavah

 

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Yes, I see units run high adventures and a lack of commitment by the youth to properly prepare for them. Drives me nuts too. I'd say that 50% of our crew for Philmont missed a majority of the prep hikes. I didn't. Neither did my son. But other priorities took them away.

Sure you have a few that juggle their schedule successfully, but I really think that if we as a unit demanded mandatory attendence at all meetings and campouts, we would lose most of our scouts. Of course, the remaining ones would make for a great group of dedicated guys. Probably have a dynamite program too. Just much smaller.

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BrentAllen. I've seen a difference in attendance between those units, large or small, that have an actual percentage requirement for advancement and those that do not. In our District, almost all of our Troops (and all of the large Troops) have some kind of attendance policy. In talking with other SMs, I often hear that they rarely reach 50% attendance at meetings and outings. Like you say in your post, we have a couple of Troops that say they have 50 or 60 Scouts, but go to a camporee and notice that only a dozen or so of their Scouts are there. I am not trying to disparage large troops as I'm sure there are others out there that have a different experience, this is just my observation of the troops in my District.

 

We have a small troop of 11 Scouts. One Scout is almost 18 and finishing his last few requirements for merit badges for Eagle. He his very busy being a HS Sr., involved in many school sports, has a part time job. He still manages to attend at least one meeting a month and has been on a few of our campouts this past year. The other 10 Scouts show up almost 100% for meetings and outings. This wasn't always the case for our Troop, but it is something I've noticed happening for the past year. We do not have an attendance policy - no percentages for rank advancement, etc. We do make it very clear to Scouts and parents that Scouting does take some commitment and Scouts will only get out of the program what they are willing to put into it (like AvidSM says in his post). Almost all of our Scouts are involved in middle school or high school band and/or sports and they are required to make practices, games, and concerts. Perhaps because we do not have hard rules about attendance, I've noticed that if we are camping reasonably locally, guys that may have a game or concert on Friday night or even Saturday morning will come to the campout afterwards.

 

I would say we run an excellent program. Learning and fun going on at meetings. Learning and fun going on at campouts. At least one outing a month. Planning being done by the Scouts. For us at least it seems the guys are enjoying what they're doing and what to keep doing it.

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