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21 As Required Age For Unit Leaders

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Ummm. I don't believe you are strengthening your case with remarks like this.


An 18 year old is probably just emerging from the care and protection of their family --- or perhaps the harsh exploitation and abuse of their family. They are just at the point where the individual himself is making choices about how to live their life, based on their own wise or foolish notions, which will be refined over the decades to come.


Instead of the family, the world is going to be the new place that you live. It may be harsh and unforgiving. It may be a cornucopia of delightful experiences. The world is very likely to have a significant impact on your behavior and personality.


Psychiatrists usually make a large part of their income coaching people in how to change their personalities.



Just as an example, there is the Britney Spears effect. As long as she was under the thumb of her family and mother, Britney Spears had a remarkable career earning hundreds of millions of dollars by the time she was your age.


When she became legally an adult and more importantly liberated from the discipline and control of her mother, she was free to express her personality and use her money and personal liberty according to her own choices. The result---- disaster!


In the next few years you will likely discover that many of your high school classmates go through meltdowns much like Britney between age 19 and 21, and 21 and 30. They will get involved with crime, drugs, girlfriends or boysfriends that are no good, get head over heels in debt and a variety of other problems. By age 30 or so a lot of those people will have figured out ways to manage their lives effectively in a disciplined way.


It's not surprising you don't understand that --- you haven't lived and seen it yet.


I like to suggest that you can divide people into three basic groups:


1. A relatively small group who learn from books, parents, teachers, Scout Leaders, clergymen and similar people about how to ive their lives.


2. The majority who learn from their (our) mistakes.


3. Another minority --- who NEVER learn.



Personally, I consider myself in group #2 ---for most things. I'm in group #1 for some things and group #3 for a few.



You may be in Group #1, or you may simply have lived in a protected environment of family, school, church and Scouting, and not yet been tempted and tested by the world, just as Britney had not been tested at your age.


Too early to say, really. By age 21 more data will be in. Unfortunately, there are a very wide variety of ways to screw up your life.


By age 21 you will be wiser about life. Wiser yet at 30 and 40.


By age 50 and 60 you will be able to look at the things you did with your life that were wise and foolish with a degree of objectivity, since you wont be the same person you were when you were younger. You wont really understand that for another thirty of forty years though.










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KC9 - You meant MIB, not Moose.. You do make some good points.. I guess all of you are kindof focused on SM.. As stated early on I am not opposed to the 21 rule for SM or CC, just the jobs on committee and other jobs capable of young adults with as much or as little guidence as necessary for that individule..


I don't know if my son really is opposed to the arguement of an 18 yo. He did not try to go for the position last year at 18 (a few weeks shy of 20).. Only at 20 (a few weeks shy of 21)..


Also agree that at 21 the COR would have to look at the other adults in the troop, and the personality of the young person and figure out if there was a good support system for a young SM.. But, with that good support system, then I think the young SM can bring an energy, enthusiasm and excitement, some of us old foggies can not to the program..



But then the CC Fiance, is something we do disagree on, not because she is not capable for the most part as long as they stay relatively sane. But if the adults of the Pack get as unrational as the adults of the troop, that would be a handful, if she does not get adult guidence with the issues.. She may do fine, but it alot to ask..


I had to laugh at student/scouts comment..

But I'm almost done, sick of some of the bull that goes on with the adults,


So us adults in BS are so much better then rainbow.. Right?

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Why dont we look at the actual data and not speculate. I am currently in Psychology 202: The Psychology of Personality-so lets get technical.


The formal definition of personality is as followed: Unique, relatively enduring internal and external aspects of a persons character that influence behavior in different situations. Now what the hell does this mean? Basically, our personality is what makes us behavior the way we do-externally shown to people and our internal thoughts and reactions to situations. KC9DDI, this does include maturity, judgment, experience, responsibility, leadership etc etc. When it comes to age heres the answer: 30 years of age is when personality becomes fully stabilized and also the age when we start to comprehend who we are. But when you look at theorists such as Jung and Erikson who describe the development of personality in different approaches.


Carl Jungs theory of Analytic Psychology focuses on two main concepts. 1. We are shaped by our past, present and future. 2. The unconscious. There are two sides of the unconscious. The first is the personal unconscious. This is basically our long-term memory which helps us perceive the world and originates from childhood, adulthood, collective unconscious and the experiences from each day. The collective unconscious is the deepest and least accessible level of psyche. We are predisposed to behave and feel same way people have always behaved and felt-personal experience contribute to predisposition becoming reality. We also have the universal images such as the villain vs. hero, the mother and child, the wise old man and the witch etc that further our experiences which, in turn furthers our personality. According to Jung, our psychological growth is through individuation which is becoming an individual, fulfilling ones capacities and developing ones self. This idea of individualization is key to understanding the idea that an age group cannot be generalized into one specific category because we all develop our personality on an individual basis because each of our environmental experiences are different.


Many people have heard of Erik Erikson-a theorist who focused on the life cycle. Im going to focus on the first 5 stages of life because those are what relate to personality the most. The first stage is from birth to 1 yrs old, called TRUST VS. MISTRUST. Which side of the spectrum the child ends up on is highly dependent of the interaction with the caregivers. If the caregivers provide ample affection, love and security then the child will fall under TRUST and receive the basic strength of hope. The second stage occurs between 1-3 yrs called AUTONOMY VS. SHAME AND DOUBT. This is the stage of potty-training and independence. They learn to do things on their own, control over themselves and environment and if the parents complete the stage with love and patience then the child as achieved autonomy, but if the caregivers are angered and impatient with this stage then the child will feel shame and doubt in other actions that they do. The third stage happens between the ages of 3-5 and is called INITIATIVE VS. GUILT. In this stage, the children are learning to do things on their own (taking initiative), and they have the desire to do so. If this is welcomed by the caregiver the child will learn that they have a purpose in life which will give courage to envision and pursue goals. The fourth stage is between the ages of 6 to 11 called INDUSTRY VS. INFERIORITY. This is when the attitudes of parents, teachers and other adults influence the childs self-perceptions. If they get praise and pleasure from successful completion of a task the child became confident and feels competent is the things they do. If the child is being scolded and ridiculed they will feel they are inferior and inadequate to do what they want to do. Now, why have I gone into depth about this, BECAUSE BY THE END OF THE FOURTH STAGE THE PERSONALITY IS FORMED AND WILL AFFECT THE REST OF ONES LIFE. Adolescence is we figure out what our identity is, try different roles to figure out what we want to do, but our personality that has already been formed is what allows us to figure out who we want to be.


So basically, Personality is developed and formed by the age of 11 because of childhood experiences. The adolescence period and young adulthood (which is 18-35) is when you learn who you are as a person with a help of the personality traits that have already been acquired.

Just wanted to clear up any confusion of development of personality!


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Yah, teacher/scout, I'm laughin' out loud.


You are, I assume, correct on all of your facts, eh? That's my understandin' of it as well, from people who know far better than I. Personality gets pretty well set by early adolescence, which is exactly why yeh have the Brittany Spears effect. Always having been controlled by others, she never developed self-control at that age and it is much, much, much harder for her to change now. In fact, it's more like she has to develop ways of coping with her personality and addictions, eh? Because change in some cases is not possible.


But teacher/scout, you're dealing with a prejudice here, eh? A bias against young people, by old people who want to preserve their rank and privilege. It's ironic that some of 'em were once da young people who hollered "Don't trust anyone over 30!" ;).


When yeh get a bit more experience workin' with us older folks, you'll learn that you can't change a prejudice with the facts. Young people are more likely to re-think things, but old folks have been thinkin' along the lines they have for decades, and they have a personal interest in maintaining their own sense of self-worth and privilege. Only in rare, intellectual adults will yeh see an argument sway someone from a prejudice, and only because that's a deep-seated part of their personality. Just look at da birther and youth protection threads this week, eh? Facts and expertise don't move older people from their beliefs, they just make us louder and more child-like ;).


So yeh might consider whether a different tactic is in order, eh? Since changing people's biases is a hard proposition and rarely accomplished by argument, what other possible tactics are there to accomplish what yeh want?


I think there are lots. But you're taking psychology, so I bet you can come up with lots on your own.




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Hello Teacher Scout,



I am glad to adopt your suggestion of age 30 as a point when a personality becomes mature.


Still, people continue to adapt to circumstances well beyond the age of thirty, whatever you want to call that in your theoretical model.



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Yah, SP, they cope (or not), but they don't really change. Evidence is that personality is pretty hard-wired.


But since we're havin' a fun time discussin' facts, I have to go back to respond to that HAM fellow KC9 who is keepin' up his end of an interestin' argument. ;)


But, there is a documented causative relationship between certain personal development traits and the number of years you've been on the planet.

No there isnt. Theres a correlation. As you mention, it is equally well established that da interpersonal variance (difference between people) on personal development swamps the weak correlation, just as the interpersonal differences in people of color swamp the (stronger) correlation with crime.


So when yeh judge an individual based on a demographic trend, knowing that individual differences are much larger than the demographic trend, that is not rational. Its prejudice.


It's clear that we can make generalizations about an individual's maturity and capabilities based on age


I disagree. That is not at all clear.


Generalizations are useful only when applied to general groups. In public policy, it is perfectly reasonable to budget more for medical care for those over 40, because on average those over 40 require more care. What does not follow is that Bill will need more medical care because he is over 40.


Now, yeh might say that da cost of doin individual evaluations in some cases is too high, eh? So when da negative consequences are low and the cost of doin a better job is too high, we settle on applying a general rule to individuals. We set da age of majority to 18 and so on (and then allow for exceptions).


But in da case of selecting a Scoutmaster, we are already dedicating the resources to do an individual evaluation of the preparedness and maturity of the candidate. So there is no rational basis for applying a generality when we have full and complete access to the specifics required to make an informed choice. In fact, applying a generality in such a case is almost da veritable definition of injustice.


Do we allow a 14 year old to join a Wolf den in a Cub Scout pack?

I believe we do in some special-needs packs. Certainly we extend the eligible time to be a Boy Scout or Venturer.


Do we allow a 17 year old to be an SM, provided there's a couple 18 or 21 year olds along just to keep it legal?

Here we are limited by the societal age of majority, eh? However, I would have no problem with an emancipated minor taking da position if thats what the CO desired.


Can a 13 year old get a driver's license?

I believe da answer is "Yes" in some jurisdictions, if there is a demonstrated need. Ironically, in some states a 16 year old can fly an airplane solo before he can drive. What does that tell us about justly assessing someones skills and maturity?


In my opinion, while we would certainly expect a SM to continue to develop these traits as an adult, it's not wrong to expect that an SM already have these traits developed to some minimum baseline. I happen to think that an age requirement is a starting point to address that.

Yah, but the evidence would suggest that is a very poor starting point, when you have access to experience. Da question in units is often the difference between a young person with a half decade or more of experience vs. an older person with less. There is no reason to assume that a person doesn't meet the "baseline" by virtue of age alone.


Or, put another way, it is perfectly legal in most states for a certified high school teacher to be under age 21, and there are quite a few. In fact, 18 is da minimum age in most states as far as I know. Similarly 18 is da minimum for EMT and for nursing, so that fellow savin' your life after the car wreck might just be workin' on the weekend to save for college during his senior year. I know rural high schools that encourage seniors to sign up for da volunteer fire department.


So do yeh really want to claim that the young man who teaches flying lessons on the weekend and has two years of experience saving lives as an EMT isn't mature enough to take kids camping on his off weekends because he's only 20? If society lets a 19-year-old be an ER nurse or a grade school teacher, can we really claim she's not qualified to be a cub scout committee chair?


Not without quite a bit of prejudice on our part, eh? ;)



(This message has been edited by Beavah)

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The "facts" in this case are seemingly inconsistent. When does our personality become set in stone? 11? 18? 30? 35?


this does include maturity, judgment, experience, responsibility, leadership etc etc


Hmmmm... so if I'm understanding you right, all of these elements are pieces of one's personality, and are mostly immutable after age 11 or so. So I guess we're wasting our time trying to teach leadership skills to 14 year old scouts? And parents of 16 year olds should just throw in the towel if their children haven't developed an acceptable level of maturity or good judgement? And how exactly is experience (ie, something which must be gained over time) a part of personality?


So what exactly is it that does develop and mature over time? What is it that sets a 21 year old apart from a 14 year old? I don't have the background in psychology that you may, so I'll let you tell me what this "thing" is formally called. But it sounds like this is the "thing" that is more developed in a 21 year old versus an 18 year old.


Beav - I know you're pretty smart, and I'm often in agreement with you on many issues, but this ain't one of them. Let's think this through here: Why do we require "special circumstances" to allow a 14 year old to join a Wolf den. Any what special circumstances could permit a 13 year old to hold a driver's license? Again, its not prejudice according to the strict definition of prejudice. It is a generalization, which I'll admit may leave a small number of people treated unfairly.


As far as other 18-21 year olds being qualified for other high-responsibility jobs: I was an EMT at 18, and there certainly is a great deal of responsibility and maturity required to do that job. But it doesn't necessarily translate over to being prepared to serve as an SM. An EMT might deal with high-stress, high-stakes situations, but these are typically with strangers in a one-time encounter lasting less than 60 minutes. Not the same thing as building a long term mentoring relationship with a group of youths. Same idea as why a good quality Scoutmaster isn't necessarily qualified or cut out to be an EMT - there's a multitude of different factors at work. But, I think that when it comes to trying to set guidelines at a national level for a multi-million member program, an age requirement is an acceptable way to set the bar for acceptable candidates.

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An EMT might deal with high-stress, high-stakes situations, but these are typically with strangers in a one-time encounter lasting less than 60 minutes. Not the same thing as building a long term mentoring relationship with a group of youths.


Yah, but then I mentioned that da minimum age to be a school teacher in most states is 18. Surely yeh can't claim that being a school teacher does not involve building a long term mentoring relationship with a group of youth!


So if society allows a high school teacher to be 19 or 20 years old, and a 19 year old flight instructor can have a long-term teaching and mentoring relationship teaching a 15-16 year old how to fly an aircraft can we really claim that there is any justice in not allowing someone that age to take a group of boys camping?


Even more than that, are we willing to substitute our generalization based on age for the direct evidence and judgment of the people who know the young man or woman personally, and the desires of da organization that is responsible for the program?



(This message has been edited by Beavah)

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Hello Beavah,



I'm a pragmatist.



How many times have you had an 18-20 year old you would have picked (and the COR would have picked) as a SM had you been able to do so?


Would this opportunity result in more Scouts staying with their troop and a part of Scouting in your opinion?



Frankly, if BSA reduced the age to 20, 19 or 18 I wouldn't wring my hands. But how much of a difference do you think it would make?

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How many times have you had an 18-20 year old you would have picked (and the COR would have picked) as a SM had you been able to do so?


At least a handful over da years. Yep, meaning that would be the best choice for the program and the boys.


I reckon there are two questions, eh?


Da first is whether the general age limit is just and reasonable in the first place. I'd say not, based on all da things I mentioned - that young adult SMs are common in worldwide scouting, that young people are entrusted with more demanding and responsible positions here in da U.S., etc. Unless yeh feel it's important for a Scoutmaster to be able to drink, an age 21 limit doesn't make much sense to me.


The second is even if the generality is reasonable, justice demands exceptions. In general, it's reasonable to expel a youth who brings a weapon to school. However, "zero-tolerance" policies are unjust, because they don't allow for da exercise of judgment when an exception is required. Similarly, even if an age 21 limit "generality" is reasonable for some reason, then there also needs to be provision for exceptions when that is truly the just and correct choice.


That's bedrock principle in our democracy, eh? 18 is the age of majority, but the court can grant exceptions. Prosecutorial discretion, jury nullification, and executive pardon all apply even to our most vital criminal laws.


Justice demands exceptions.




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Just to further Beavah's point on teachers-I starting subsitiute teaching as soon as I was out of high school (so I was 18). According to our SAU I am CERTIFIED to teach preschool through 8th grade, my SAU typically does not put subsititutes my age in the high school because it is to close of age (as of last year there were seniors that we actually older than me because I was/am a young graduate). As soon as I turn 20 I am eligable to teach at the high school level-if I had the desire to do so.


At the age of 18 I also became a certified bartender through the Boston School of Bartending.


At 11 years old all the characteristics of their personality are within them due to their childhood experiences. (hence how experience is part of personality because they do have childhood experience) After 11 is when they begin to fine tune their personality traits and typically have a good chance of strengthening their good traits, if they stick around with good role models. Have you ever taken the Myers-Briggs Personality Test. I would suggest doing so if you haven't. This tells you what personality traits you have and it's clear to see that you were like this at a younger age-say around 11. For exmaple my personality is considered to be INFJ. I stands for introversion which means i get my energy from the inner world of myself. So when I need to wake myself up, reenergize, I go in my room and play solitaire, something I have been doing since I was 9. N stands for intuition, which looks for possibilities and relationships. Basically, my thought process leans towards more abstract thinking, which is something I have always shown in writing papers or journal entries-started that about 12 years old. F stands for feeling, which is when I base decisions on personal values. I believe that sometimes it is better to listen to your heart instead of the facts. But still use facts to support my decision. Been listening to my heart since around 10. J stands for Judging, which is described a perferring to have a planned, decided and orderly way of life. I am a list maker-have been for as long as I can remember.

See what you remember doing at a younger age if you take this test.

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At 16 or 17 I was a Qualified Water Safety Instructor and Lifeguard and was performing both of these jobs on a daily basis. I would hope nobody would argue that these are serious roles that roles that require maturity and responsibility there. Due to the fact that people are entrusting their life and those of their kids to me and if im not paying attention sombody can get hurt.

But its also something nobody looks twice at a young person doing. And if you think about those jobs they Require building a long term mentoring relationship with groups of youth. Because before you can get them to learn from you; you must gain their trust.


Generalizations leave large numbers of people treated unfairly.

In this particular situation if the age limit were lower than those people would not be left out and it would be up to the unit to decide what they wanted to do. If they thought that person would be good in a position or not...oh wait they do that now with anyone over 21.


Oh sorry for the confusion with the 18. I was talking to Teacher/Scout and a lot of People say 18 because its an average and save a lot of confusion from listening to psychological stuff. And both of us have heard 18 from countless people due to those reasons. But she knows her stuff.

(This message has been edited by MoosetheItalianBlacksmith)

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Interestin', teacher/scout. Is da Meyers-Briggs really stable after age 11?


IIRC, Gallup does another personality/strengths inventory for da workplace that's used by a lot of corporations for hiring and placement decisions. I think they determined it was stable down to at least age 14. Meanin' that by age 14 da traits that are important predictors of employment success in different fields are pretty well "set." All da rest is just experience, which like as not is picked up OTJ.






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