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ASM915

Scouts Embarrassed to March in Parade

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I need some suggestions from some unattached individuals. Our CO is the local VFW. We are asked to do two things a year for the CO, put flags on graves on Saturday, and be in the parade today. This has been a point of no discussion in the past, always mandatory except with a good excuse. If you can't make one, be there for the other unless out of town for the holiday.

 

We are presently a small troop, 10 scouts. One Friday the current SM sent out an email asking about the time for Saturday, and then in the next line made the statement that neither is mandatory to attend.

 

The email went back with the time for Saturday, and that we should respect the VFW's wishes. Saturday morning, only two scouts and three scouters showed up (three families), and for today's parade, one scout and scouter. Two were excused due to the HS band being in the parade. One of the band members was one scout that showed on Saturday on his own volition. Two more were spotted in the crowd along the parade route, one being the SPL (SM's son).

 

Next monday night will be real interesting. Need some ideas on how to bring this situation up, and discuss it, without blowing the roof off the place.

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Sorry to hear about the low turn out. As Scouters we have to get the young men excited about an event. If the troop leadership was luke warm in the message on how important it was I can't blame the scouts for not showing up. Good luck at the next meeting. Best thing to do is admit that a mistake has happened and do better next time.

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If the SM gave the word that participation was optional, then the Scouts did nothing wrong. The matter is for the Committee and CO to discuss with the SM. Since the unit is "owned" by the VFW, seems to me their wishes should be honored.

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I would be more interested to understand why they were embarrassed, was it being in uniform in public or they felt scouting was not something cool or are they scouts in name only? All or any of these reasons signal a much deeper problem within the troop structure, leadership, or troop program. You need to have your UC observe and critique your troop, but be ready for criticism and some brutal honesty. There is much more here than not marching in some parade.

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I think you could start by asking the scouts what they think about the matter. Especially if most of them have participated in the past, and since you have such a small group, make it a whole group discussion. Ask for input. Let them know why this particular event is so important to the VFW that sponsors their troop. Ask them for ideas on how else they can ensure that the VFW knows their sponsorship is appreciated.

 

From what you write, it doesn't sound like you KNOW they are embarrassed - just that you are guessing. It could be that, or it could be something else (they wanted to sleep in, the route is really long, etc.) Understanding why several of your troop's boys were not participating even though they were in town (along the parade route) might be a good place to start.

 

 

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A couple of points (some of which was already touched upon)...

 

1) Leadership needs to get their ducks in a row. Can't blame a bunch of scouts if they are told its "optional". Most 12-17 y/o I know (including scouts) will take the option to sleep in than get out of bed for anything on a holiday weekend given the choice.

 

If these two events are requested by the CO, then the unit leaders need to do a much BETTER job of planning the events and making sure the date / time / place info is put out far enough in advance for scouts to make plans to participate (forget about the implications of boy-led vs/ adult led)... why was the info so last minute if this is a standing event for the unit? If the e-mail for time / location to meet was still being batted around on Friday, then this event was doomed to failure even if you HAD a bunch of scouts ready to participate. How many families didn't even read the e-mail until AFTER the event took place?

 

2) This is a teaching opportunity. One about what it means to be a scout. The idea that these two linked events are not about THEM, but about service to others. About being respectful and taking a very small amount of time out of their own life to reflect on those who have provided them with freedoms that the majority in our country take SO for granted that this holiday has become more about BBQ, summer kickoff, a car race, and home improvement projects than what the day was actually set aside to honor.

 

Its a teaching opportunity to have the scouts realize that even if it WAS optional, that choosing to not participate not only let the unit down, it in fact let the CO down and the community at large down. This is especially true given the unit's history of participation - to have a poor showing tells the community that "The VFW Boy Scouts don't care about honoring vets, why should we?"

 

If they were embarrased, then you have even MORE of a teaching opportunity. Maybe, you don't have a scout troop. Maybe if all they want is to hang out and do the "fun" stuff, what you really have is a camping club disguised as a scout troop? I'm not saying this is the case, but if a majority of your youth (even in a small unit) are embarrassed to be seen in uniform for a Memorial Day parade, then you probably have some serious soul searching to do as a unit.

 

Best of luck - I wouldn't want to be at the meeting next Monday.

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ASM915,

 

 

Memorial Day 2009 is already in the past. So, now it would only be time for reflection, and maybe ethical controversy exercises. Also, you could get their feedback and opinions without preaching to them. Hopefully you can get them to develop their own "buy in" to participating in Memorial Day events.

 

Some reflection questions I would think of asking would be.

What is the actual purpose of Memorial Day?

 

Some Scouts could probably blurt it out verbatim, some other Scouts may just know it is another day off from school.

 

Also maybe ask. What has the VFW done for our Troop? Have they given finances, Camperships/Scouterships, vehicles, meeting places, etc?

 

If the local VFW has been very generous to the troop; then ask. How can we show our appreciation for what the VFW has done for us?

 

My own attention span is short. So imagine how long a Tenderfoot or SPL's attention span last. Next memorial day, it may be a thing of the past; and they may not know what you are talking about. But hopefully, the troop will find some way to participate and honor the fallen troops over the years; whether it is a parade or other specific Memorial Day events in honor of the VFW.

 

Good Luck!

 

Scouting Forever and Venture On!

Crew21 Adv

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Our Troop is also sponsored by the local VFW Post 1672 and they ask the same two things of us flags and the parade. They do a lot for us and are a great bunch of guys. they recently moved our troop to near the head of the parade to carry a large flag putting us immediately behind the veterans and ahead of all other groups in town. Some of the boys are in the band and some are always away. most of the boys march even if they would rather sleep. but there is a lot of peer pressure not to be a scout and I know most of the boys 8th grade and up don't advertise it a lot. Some of the boys do talk about scouting and don't care what other people think as I think about it they have relativity large groups of friends in scouting both in our unit and other units. seems to me we need to help these boys find the self esteem to be who they are hopefully scouts. any way are there any ideas or techniques that work for you guys?

tony

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I suggest that the leaders meet before Monday's meeting and hash out all aspects of this issue. It comes across to me as a failure by leaders to properly schedule, promote, and explain this activity. Best to have the leadership ducks in a row before meeting with the youth AND it's very important not to turn Monday's meeting into a "blame the youth" session.

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Here's an idea to run by your PLC. Sometime between now and next Memorial day, maybe in November near Veteran's day. Ask one of two of the veterans of your VFW post to come to a meeting and talk about their experiences. Let them hear what it was like to be an 18 year old wading ashore at Normandy or Tarawa; or to land in a hot LZ in Viet Nam.

 

A couple of years ago some of our scouts got to listen to a vet who had been a Ranger on Omaha beach. They were fascinated by his account of that historic day.

 

When the time comes for a parade then remind them that this is their chance to stand tall for the men and women that once stood tall for all of us. When you put a face on what it means to be a veteran, the scouts will likely do the right thing.

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I agree with the points about reflecting on the meaning of Memorial Day, etc. ... BUT ... I can guarantee any adult who stands up and starts spouting off at the next meeting about service to others, honoring our veterans, etc., is going to be ignored all around. It's out of sight, out of mind, until next year.

 

The other issue that DeanRx raises - an matter of leadership - could be great to focus on the youth leaders, with "lessons learned" about how to plan and organize an event. Unfortunately, it sounds like the SM's attitude rubbed off directly on his AWOL SPL son. That's going to be a really tough lesson.

 

The SM is ultimately the chief program officer and sets the example and the rules. An event is optional? OK, it's not a big deal if we don't go. You've got very few legs to stand on this time around.

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I would like to know what the scouts say? How do you know what to fix if you don't know what is broken.

 

Sometimes it has nothing to do with scouting, it's just boys acting badly.

 

Barry

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Barry,

 

... and sometimes, when the leadership gives something as an option (as the SM in this case did), the youth are going to be someplace else. ...

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I look first to the SM here. The instructive element from the original poster is:

"One Friday the current SM sent out an email asking about the time for Saturday, and then in the next line made the statement that neither is mandatory to attend."

 

The day before the event, and a clear statement that the event is not a must-do. Hardly a BFO that the youth blew it off.

 

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We just had our Memorial Day activities as well. On Saturday we spent two hours planting flags. On Monday, we helped with a parade of flags. We do this every year.

 

We made Monday a little more fun by having a Merit Badge Counselor for American Heritage onsite. She gave the boys interview sheets, and they went off and interviewed veterans and others in attendance (Requirement 2, parts c & d):

 

"c. With your counselor's approval, interview two veterans of the U.S. military. Find out what their experiences were like. Ask the veterans what they believe they accomplished.

 

d. With your counselor's approval, interview three people in your community of different ages and occupations. Ask these people what America means to them, what they think is special about this country, and what American traditions they feel are important to preserve. "

 

I taught the boys how to ID vets (looking for the baseball caps and VFW hats, for example). They went off in teams of 2 to talk to the vets as the vets gathered for the ceremony. It was great, and I would guess that we will have at least 10 boys earn the badge. More importantly, they had a reason to talk to the Vets, and might have learned something too. Some of them were really excited about the conversations, and in addition they were repeatedly thanks by the vets for being there.

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