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The Replacements, A Band of Brothers View of the Crossovers

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Last night was the first meeting in our Troop with the newly crossed over Webelos. After the meeting my 13yo made a comment that struck me. He said, I could just tell half of these guys arent going to make it. I probed further asking how he knew that. I dont know, Its something you feel. Its like we were talking about the hike in two weeks and some totally dont understand. Remember the guy last year who thought he was going to die on that little 8 mile. Some cant cut it


The attrition rate for the 1st year Scouts is pretty high with our troop. Its been running 30-40%. While some of the reason is a parent and situation factor I wonder if at the Troop level there is a Band of Brothers factor. While Im hard pressed to say that our 40 boy troop is a clique, I would hold that it takes a special motivated boy and his family to have a successful scouting career. We bend over to get these little ones active and quickly moving with the T-2-1 program and a series of spring events encouraging advancement. However maybe not every Cub/Webelo is cut out to be a Scout.


How do your troops current Scouts feel about the Replacements?


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Within our troop, the views about "Replacements" and "Band of Brothers" kinda ebbs and flows each year. The adult leadership tries to help assist with perspectives and views, and eliminate negative stereotyping.


During PLC meetings as we plan for the Webelos visits, we attempt to humanize them to the older boys (aka Band of Brothers).


On our annual planning calendar, specifically for during the visit, we plan a Webelos friendly events that they will enjoy and talk about for months. We partner up one older boy with one Webelos for the night, they have to tell everyone their names and their favorite hobby. We have a title for the invitation night and specifically tell our Venture Patrol to "Hug-a-Webe".


To continue to humanize the Webelos and brand new first year Scouts; thru the middle of the school year coming up on Christmas Break, January and February, during our monthly PLCs, (our adults hopefully think we know our boys and are close to speaking their lingo) we remind our Scouts that just a couple of years ago, they (our 13-14 y/o's) were a bunch of "dorks" always bumping into everything. We further remind our (middle age 13/14 yo) Scouts, if they want to continue washing dishes and doing KP for the patrol, then they can scare off all the 1st year Scouts and we will just have a "Band of Brothers". Or.... They can embrace the 1st year Scouts as someone that should learn proper hygiene, proper cooking procedures, and also that a Scout is helpful, friend, and clean. These 1st year Scouts are perfect for doing the meal prep, cooking, and even KP. Does it get any better than this?


Thru reminding them what they went thru, our 13/14 yo Scouts realize they were just like those 10.5 yo Webelos/New Scouts a few years back. And that another Star, Life Scout had taught them Scouting skills. That these Webelos/New Scouts, while younger can still be fairly cool (and fun to watch do KP).


The Scoutmaster and Assistant Scoutmasters know, that any 10.5 year old Scout doesn't want to be just like us, middle aged men. They really, really, really want to be just like that 14 yo Star Scout or 15 yo Life Scout.


Our annual program that is negotiated with the whole troop, includes progressive events tailored for bridging new Scouts (or recruiting 12-17 y/o just joining), as well as tailored advancement programs for the T-1 and L-E.


Sure. We have some small attrition from sports, parents, moving homes, homework, girlfriends, etc. But the last reason is from our program and "Replacements" "Band of Brothers" view.


How does our current Scouts feel about the Replacements? They kinda like someone, looking up to them, following them like a puppy dog.


Hopefully with some Scoutmaster guidance, your PLC can develop a more beneficial view and eliminate the Replacements - Band of Brothers or "Us vs. Them".


Scouting Forever and Venture On!

Crew21 Adv


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Part of the "Band of Brothers" problem is that the "Toccoa Men" had built such an Esprit d'Corps that they resented The Replacements. It was just as much healing from losing brothers from D-Day and Carentan. If you'll recall in the series (or the book), they even resented Webster, one of the Toccoa Men, because he spent a leisurely time getting back from being hospitalized after D-Day, while others snuck out of the hospital in order to rejoin the unit.


There is no doubt, Scout troop or otherwise, that bonding happens with certain shared experiences. One of the catalysts with me were our high adventure trips. In my opinion, there's nothing better for not only teaching a young scout how to deal with his limitations in his head and at the same time teach him loads about group dynamics. Sure, patrols do the same thing, but a patrol doing something that isn't easy, or seems impossible at the start, is even better.


I've been on an Ambrose reading kick in the last couple of years, and I think the message about the BoB Replacements is this: the Toccoa Men didn't want to get too close to anyone, because guys came and went all the time (they also freely admit that one reason they had so much Esprit d'Corps was because of Capt Sobel). However, they wouldn't have been able to do the extraordinary things they did had they not had those willing to step forward, including The Replacements, when others had fallen.


Rather than focus on resentment against The Replacements, wouldn't it be better to facilitate the shared experiences that will help new scouts bond with the others? Maybe ask the scout that can tell some of the new kids won't make it what he can do to maybe change that situation?



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Our boys view the "replacements" a little differently. The "rule" is to maintain 6-8 boys per patrol. All the patrolss are permanent and when the new boys cross over, it means they have the opportunity to convince the new scouts to join in, if not just for survival sake. They realize that they cannot continue without the assistance of these new boys to fill their ranks. The boys know that if they cannot convince these new boys to join their patrol, their only recourse is to start merging patrols to acquire the minimum number to survive. The real kicker lies in the fact that if the new boys are not convinced that joining a veteran patrol is a good thing, they always have the opportunity to create their own NSP's. All cliquishness seems to miraculously disappears under these dynamics and the boys spend a lot of time grooming the new Webelos boys to make sure they have the numbers.


Stosh(This message has been edited by jblake47)

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I was talking to a dad who had four sons in our troop. His first son actually started with a different troop and he quit after the first campout. The dad told me that the troop separated the new scouts from the rest of the troop. They were put on a first class first year program and had to camp in a different area and do a different program. The troop was also sending the new scouts to a different summer camp than the rest of the scouts. His son had had enough of feeling like a Webelos, so he quit after the first campout and joined our troop.


I think that was an extreme case, but I do find that most troops kind of separate the new scouts from the rest of the group for a while at least, and that is not what those guys saw when the visited as Webelos. Our troop is mixed age and if we can, we throw them in the existing patrols from the beginning. That makes it a little harder to become very cliquie. Oh it takes a little time for everyone to get use to the new guys and visa versa, but in general they are accepted as equals in the patrols.


It is a struggle at the begining because any experienced leader (boy or adult) will tell you the most undisciplined scouts in the troop are the new guys. But patience and consistent positive attitudes are virtues you want the boys to develop, and adults too for that matter.


Remember, the new guys are going through a major shock. This for most of them is the first time they are ask to trust boys for guidance and reliance on themselves. They are being pushed to put their lives in the hands of boys. For most of the new guys, it was likely that the parent carried their gear to the trailer on the first campout. They need just a little bit of hand holding the first couple of months just so they dont feel too lost. A good group of older scouts makes a world of difference. And let me just say, the older the scout, the better. This will come off wrong to some here, but looking back on our troop as it matured from 12 Webelos starting the troop to 90 scouts with 40 percent of them 14 and older, I never saw a good Troop Guide that was 14 or younger, and I NEVER saw a Bad Troop Guide that was 15 or older. Puberty makes a huge difference in the motivation to serve others. For those of you who aren't there yet, you have a lot to look forward to.


The other thing you can just about count on is if you still have your new scouts after six months, you will likely have them for at least three years. Summer camp is the last chance for helping the new guys not feel like the new guys anymore. First class program is OK I guess, but boys join scouts for adventure. Give them adventure with the rest of the troop. Don't let them feel like outsiders looking in.


In our troop, the members of the band of brothers (patrols) are of different ages and experiences. They are use to the oldest guys running the troop and eventually moving on and the newest guys joining up and needing to learn skills. It happens every year where as the same age patrols rarely see it. They become a clique by default.


Good luck and help your son fix the problem. Help him to see those new scouts in his place three years from now and ask him how the troop can get them there. Then support his ideas.


I love this scouting stuff.




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Part of the problem IMHO is that we don't push Boy Scouting enough in Webelos. Some packs tend to treat it like Cub Scouts is the end of the road. There was not a lot of interaction between the Troop and the Pack for us. Now we are in a new Troop now that doesn't have a Cub Scout component. That interaction can be very important especially when Cubs aren't really sure what happens in a Boy Scout troop.


Our troop has several Cub siblings so we just formed a Cub Scout patrol with them. I'm sure it is against some rule but idle hands are the Devil's workshop at meetings. But those Cubs will know exactly what happens at a Boy Scout meeting when it is time to bridge over. Several parents were concerned that their kids would just be battling bears and snakes all the time.



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We try to bring the Webelos into the family as fast as possible. Individual patrols run the crossover, having already helped recruit the new Scouts.


At an upcoming cross over, the Patrol Leader will invite the Webelos Scout to cross the bridge and join their specific Patrol. The Webelos Scout from then on will be a member of that Patrol (until he chooses to change Patrols). Each Patrol will be working hard to get their New Scouts along the Trail to First Class from within the Patrol.

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We are trying a different approach. Our WII are meeting as a den at the same time as our troop. When the troop breaks for patrol time, the Webelos break off for their own activities. When they bridge over, they will meld into the troop but not as a separate patrol. They will be in the existing patrols. It seems to be working well for our guys.


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When Webelos Scouts visit the troop I am SM of, I have the SPL assign a First Class Scout to buddy up with each visiting Webelos Scout. This has been reasonably successful in portraying our troop as being boy lead, because the boys will take the prospective recruit around and interact with him while I and the ASM/CC/COR talk with the Webelos Scouts parents.


We dont pull a "Dog and Pony show" type of staged meeting to impress potential members and their families...we show them a normal troop meeting run by the SPL and PLs...the visitors are allowed to participate in the skills and games. At our most recent meeting, the troop held an SPL election while we had W2 visiting...the W2's thought it was pretty cool that the boys run the troop.


For my part of the meeting, during gathering...I demonstrated how to tie a woggle...then I let the SPL handle his meeting and I did a SM minute to wrap it up. I had the W2's complete attention while showing how to tie a woggle ( I also let it slip that the woggles I was tying were for the crossovers for the coming weekend...and we had 2 new Boy Scouts at the meeting who were presented their neckerchief and one of my hand-tied woggles).


I have all my First Class Scouts and higher ranks serve as instuctors and demonstraters of T-2-1 skills...this keeps it boy lead and taught and keeps the First Class and above ranks proficient in their skills.

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In the previous generation of Wood Badge, one of the things that we learned was that whenever there is any change in the membership of a group -- gain one or lose one -- it's a new group. If it is allowed to stay the old group or act like the old group, then the newcomer is permanently an outsider. We learned some very specific skills to reinforce the creating of a new group where everyone is a newcomer. Some have more experience than others but it's a new group and everybody is a newcomer.


One of these skills, for example, is to have the group leader indicate that it is a new group with XXXXX now a member and then have every member introduce herself or himself.


The same type of skills are in the "who me?" game in 21st Century Wood Badge.


Another part of the "Band of Brothers" situation may be the age difference. Fourteen year olds are very different from eleven year olds, can be quite scary to them and aren't necessarily welcoming at all. That can take training and leadership to address.

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...Fourteen year olds are very different from eleven year olds, can be quite scary to them...

NeilLup, taking your comment out of context here, but last night at the pack's crossover as our "youngest" Webelos was about to cross over, he saw the SPL (11th grader) and two PLs (7th and 8th graders) on the other side of the bridge. Suddenly (he had met them all at 2 different troop visits), he said--they are so old, how am I going to fit in with them, and they are the leaders?!

This was all said quietly and not disruptively (in front of the whole pack), but it was still a realization that the age difference can be daunting to some of these scouts.

Our troop has that "band of brothers" attitude amongst the oldest scouts, but we have a real gap between them and all but 4 of the "middle" scouts. Those older "brothers" will all age out in 11 to 14 months--they are close in age and have been together since cubs. Most are good with the younger scouts, but they are their own group.

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The age factor within the Band of Brothers is a very real thing. Try as we might with Patrol set-ups and training the difference between 11 and 16 is huge. To put it into prespective imagine as a 45 year old what you have in common with a 29 year old!


Encouraging those who can tolerate working with the Crossovers can help but never totally brige the gap. The only exceptions I've witnessed are those Crossovers with older brothers who have already aged out. Somehow these guys manage to meld straight into the inner circle of the Band. Maybe the legacy factor is at work here.


Bottom line here is that there is nothing to "fix" It's a group dynamic that is real. While it can be managed its something to be aware of when setting up Patrols and dealing with the new guys.


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