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I think I understand what Beavah is getting at. But I disagree. Units that focus on leadership instead of being primarily a camping club seem to become parlor scouts, sitting on benches in church basements getting lectured on how to lead.


IMHO, Baden Powell recognized the urbanization of our youth and created scouting to counter it. His primary method was to extract those youth from the urban environment (the church basement) and put them in a place they can thrive (the camping club). A natural outcome from doing this is leadership and self reliance.


I don't bristle at the term camping club. I think scouting needs to be a camping club first and foremost. That's what attracts the youth and teaches them self reliance skills they can't get elsewhere. Along the way, they hone their leadership skills.

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Someone made a reference to being an example all the time. Leaders neeed to do that, especially in small towns. As a young DE I had to visit every single elementary school in the district. kids would instantly recognize me as the "Boy Scout Guy" in the grocery, at the resteraunt, everywhere.


in reference to troops taking on the characteristics of the leadership, very true. My troop was known as a 'hiking and camping troop" as that was what the first SM was interested in. When he retired, the new SM had a water background, he was a QM in Sea Scouts, and we focused more on water activities, canoeing, rowing, and motorboating. We still did the alot hiking, but once the weather was warm enough for water activities, aout trips incorporated them into the activities.

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Expanding on what Gern said re leadership. It's highly overrated. A good thing to be sure, but developing leadership is not the purpose of Scouting nor should it be a unit's focus. Boy leadership skills naturally develop from following the program.

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We are trying hard not to be the hour and a half of entertainmentevery other week, camp for entertainment type troop but a lot of it is trying to change the peerception of what scouting is in the minds of most parents. Many when you press them a bit do get the concept that we are trying to develop responsibility, leadership etc through the BSA program and outdoors but when push comes to shove in their busy daily lives, the scout meeting is another tick on the calendar, the campout a fun adventure they need to pack for and allow for and not much more thought than that. If troop meetings are not engaging everone I get complaints, that "Johnny" was bored (Older scouts already tried to include him on wht the other scouts his age were doing but he didn't want to participate)....or parents complain their kids doesn't want to show up unless the meeting is "FUN"....they keep thinking we are there to entertain kids like cubs was and don't get teh concept of what BOY scouts and the meeting structure is about.

We are mostly a car camping troop and are proud of it. We are introducing some backpacking this year and have had a number of through troop meetings aimed at complete and thoughtful planning and packing. We have also increased the number and level of hikes to prepare for this. The bottom line though is that even though we are in the rockies, it has been hard to get kids to want to camp in the past. Left to theri own devices they used to want to do things like Bowling or Lazar tag and the like for activities. I managed to streer them into at least car camping and they now embrace that and our campouts are well attended and they are productive. Now the step to tery and backpack, although I have protests from some parents and scouts about it. I have encouraged some of these folks to plan an alernative event such as cycling or caving but so far nothing happening, deep down they really want me to take their suggestion up and run with it for them. The complainers on teh backpacking are about 10 percent of the troop and about half the troop is signed up for the backpackers.

Previous SM had rare campouts, they did summer camp, Camporee and Klondike but outside that they camped about once per year on their own, twice at best and attendance was mostly very light. My wife tells me I have hit a good formula for now as attendance is good and the boys really enjoy themselves, teh parents come to me with praise as theri boys are ahving a good time and learning ....things could be far worse. I have no regrets about car camping. We have offered whitewater but have had to cancel in teh past for lack of interest and cost, we offered bike trips as well but cancelled every time except one for lack of interest. Our ski outings have been cancelled as well due to lack of sign ups or late cancellations. Every scout is welcome to add and event to plan and communicate and organize but to date, tehy seem to think that if they simply offer the idea some adult will step in and run it for them and that is not what we are trying to do in our troop.

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I think it all really goes back to the idea of scouting as "A game with a purpose".


Leaders, but especially CM's and SM's need to strive for a good balance between the "game" and the "purpose".


Modelling the behavoir is a must. Providing gentle reminders via SM minutes and "teachable moments" when at meetings or on outings. Having frank discussions about challenges youth face, the decision making process, and personal responsibility for actions. These are all important.


A long winded lecture on a specific point in the scout law is likely to get tuned out by the scouts.


You have the "game" - camping, hiking, water sports, community service (whatever you are doing) as a means to teach the "purpose" AND give the scouts an opportunity to develop leadership skills and initiative in a safe environment. If you're camping and the tents don't get put up correctly b/c the youth leaders failed in their performance, does anyone really get hurt? No. Does it open an opportunity to talk about time management, delegation, and motivation? You bet.


Strike the balance and you will be doing your job well.


The game without purpose is really just a "playdate"

The purpose without the game is really just an old fart lecturing you if you're a 14 y/o scout.

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Nothing teaches self reliance, preparedness, physical fitness, planning and cooperation like backpacking. Car camping just doesn't do it. Being able to charge into camp, unload the troop trailer and setup a mini city in under an hour doesn't teach any of the above like backpacking does.


Executing a backpacking program is tough though. Many leaders and parents simply don't support it and would rather car camp. Its just easier. I've tried for 5 years to get our unit more backpack oriented, but we still car camp 95% of the time.

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It doest'y matter if we are car camping, water focused, hiking, treking, biking or backpacking as long as we are DOING something. These kids are talked to all the time anymore. They don't get to do things.

Doing things with kids takes time, something we have less of every year. Doing things involves risk, something we tolerate less of every year. Doing things involves effort, something we tend to put out less of every year.

The second issue of values. Be a stand up man!!!! That is every point of the scout law rolled into one action. Not perfect. Just Stand UP. Let them know you care about them. Keep it Simple. Teach them by your actions, and you won't need to say a word.

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Fully concur with your example of how a troop should set up camp. What I was refering to as "tail gate camping" was too sweeping. What I should have specified was the equipment-heavy troop showing up with a ton of complicated gear that must be unloaded, put together, then taken down...hours worth of work on each end of the weekend camp out.


I was in a troop like this as a kid and I grew to almost dread camp outs because it would take a couple hours to load all five patrols' junk in a huge truck, then unload it, then spend hours putting together big tents with over-engineered designs, etc...seemed to me, especially as the PL, that I spent most of the weekend sorting, assembling and cleaning gear. Exhausting.


Moved to AK, and my new troop's camp set up ressembled your description. I was much happier, and relieved, to be rid of all that extra junk.


Just in case this might be viewed thru the hazy fog of memories, I saw the same thing at in my last council, and in my current council as well. Troops show up with a giant horse trailer, and other trucks, then the scouts spend most of Friday night, right up till taps, putting together huge dining tents, etc.


If it's a long term camp, hey, bring it all! But a weekend? All those creature comforts just take away from the outdoor experience.


Again, your example is the way to go. But some troops go with heavy gear all the time, and it lessens the enjoyment of the outdoors.

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I cannot separate camping and other adventures from values. How I work with these two areas is simple.


1. Do stuff: camping and adventures are popular with most Scouts. Got to be active or step 2 won't show up.


2. Get outside the comfort zone: when they emotionally engaged (happy or sad - doesn't matter) they are ready to pay attention


3. Ask the three questions: What happened: so what do we make of this, what do we do to improve next time?


4. Move on. Enjoy the day.


For me I spend most of my time working on step 1, I watch for step 2 signs, we spend enough time on step 3 to discover something useful - for a whole day of activity we (up to 18 kids) sometimes might speak for 45 minutes with me saying less than 5 minutes worth. That's professionally. With Scouts step 3 is normally about 15 minutes max (using a mixed age and gender Patrol).


For a weeknight meeting the SM's story (yarn, minute) that may (or may not) have a moral and lasting 1-3 minutes is good.


I suggest that if you don't have a step 3 you are missing the point. Also if step 3 is mostly adult talking then you are still missing the point.

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Interesting discussion: As I grew with our program, my vision of developing character was always the same, but my methods of Scoutmastering changed. While I trusted at the beginning with the concept that scouting is a game with a purpose, my experience confirmed that scouting REALLY IS a game with a purpose. The game is the easy part because boys by nature will strive for adventure where ever they are. The purpose is the hard part.


Maybe Im more anal about developing character than most, but my nature is also measuring performance and making changes to improve. I will say I failed a lot, so I have a lot of experience in how not to as well as how to reach the goals of building character in a camping club type youth program. As I was learning from my humbling failures, I developed ideals that helped me steer the program toward a game with a purpose. Ideals like:


-The troop is an arena where scouts practice the Scout Law and Oath.


-A troop is the real world scaled down to a boys size.


-Boys learn almost everything by watching and doing and almost nothing by listening.


-If a boy has to sit and listen, than likely the troop program is doing it wrong. Needing a JLT class became a red flag that we needed to change something.


-If what a boy does in the troop doesnt contribute toward practicing some value of character, it doesnt belong in the program. From wearing a uniform to tying a square knot, the scout should be practicing a character value.


-To learn something, a person must practice that something. Character is a culmination of knowledge and experience. Each balances the other.


-Never say no to a scout. Let the scout pursue it to the end so he can learn why.


A troop has to be action oriented as apposed to lecture oriented to develop character.


I personally believe that leadership development is one of the best ways for a boy to practice character skills because the intensity of controlling the group is fastest method for him to learn his weaknesses. However, I learned that most leadership skills are learned by age 14 by observing the older scout role models in action.


As I said, I was anal about developing character, but I also learned that the more simple the program, the better is was in becoming a Game with a Purpose. To me the developers of the scouting program basically had it right and that we seem to make it harder on ourselves as we added rules, policies, regulations and classes. I am somewhat comfortable that if the adults strive to have an outdoor program and follow the basic plan laid out for them by the BSA, they will have a pretty good character development program as well. Even some of the Eagle Mills have good qualities in their program, they just dont have the impact of a boy run program.


Good discussion.




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  • 2 weeks later...

Some people are good public speakers, and some are not.


Some are good story tellers, and some are not.


I have observed that some really poor story tellers grab the stage in scouts, then will not shut up. The boys hate it! But these long-winded "leaders" are enamored with the sound of their own voices, (I guess) and ALWAYS have to speechafy!


Probably low self esteem...


IMO these adults are oblivious to how they're boring the kids --and the adults!



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I was just reviewing the agenda from our last meeting and campout agenda. From what I can tell the Scoutmaster got one minute to talk to the troop as whole at the end of the meeting and was not even mentioned on the campout agenda unless you put him in by default under the drive to camp part.


Why does the PLC schedule time for these long winded adults? I would advise the SPL to put a stop to it.


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I think I understand what Beavah is talking about, and in my book, there is a huge difference between a Boy Scout Troop and a Camping Club.


I've seen plenty of Camping Clubs dressed up as if they were Boy Scouts. You can spot them by their lack of courtesy (staying up and being very loud past 11:00 PM) and their lack of camping skills (using lighter fluid to start fires, no fire buckets, etc.). They also usually have 100% free time for the boys, and never any actual program to the trip. The psuedo-Scouters will witness all kinds of behaviour that doesn't conform with the Oath and Law, and never say or do anything about it (bullying, foul language, etc.)


A Boy Scout Troop will have a fun, exciting and challenging program for the Scouts, along with free time. The Scouts will learn something new or improve on a skill as part of the trip. When they get home, they will be able to tell their parents what they did, other than just say "we went camping." Hopefully each Scout will have been challenged at some point to push himself and gain confidence in his success, whether it be learning how to cook something new or squeeze through a difficult part of a cave. There should be plenty of opportunities for the adult leaders to heap praise on the boys for their accomplishments.


Finally, we do Thorns and Roses at just about every camping trip. The adults find this is a good time to talk about values in disguise. Roses might focus on the positive values that were exhibited during the day, while the thorns are areas we need to work on. The boys don't hear it that way, they just hear an adult taking his turn. This has been a very productive part of the trips for our Troop, and more so from what the boys say than the adults.

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