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ScoutLass

Troop choice conundrum

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My Scout (stepson) has similar issues with athletics and competitiveness...to the point where he will not participate in anything that he perceives as athletic...

 

My Scout does not know how ride a bike, refuses to play any "ball" sports of any kind (even if it is a Troop activity, he finds a way around it), and performs terribly in PE class. I consider him a very-minimally capable swimmer...if he ever hits the open water without a PFD...he's done for.

 

Most of his issues are fear of injury...the slightest injury is traumatic.

 

My son is a polar opposite ... very athletic, usually cares more about having fun at what he is doing rather than perfecting it...

 

You may very well have trouble finding "a" Troop that fits your Scout's personality...but that might be just the thing he needs the most...sounds like he might have to be drug kicking and screaming from that shell.

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I'm personally not willing to go so far as to say they are adult run or a Webelos III troop. I just don't know. Our area of Spokane has a few troops, and there is one in another part of town he is also interested in.

 

When it comes to HA, I think his main fear is joining a troop where they do the exact same thing every month and every year. We've tried to explain that it's up to the boys to come up with outing ideas and as he gains more responsibility in a troop he can start proposing and organizing things, but his fear is if the troop already does the minimum, it could be because adults or the other boys don't want to do more so he'd be up against a brick wall. I know we have some troops that plan at least one major outing a year, and those are the ones he is contacting.

 

My son doesn't really need help coming out of his shell, he's one of the most outgoing kids I know. He's physically active, loves to hike, ride bikes and is into martial arts, just competition against others isn't his thing and he isn't into the traditional sports like football and soccer. Everything has to have a purpose with him, and he just doesn't see the purpose of competing with others or tossing a football, I guess.

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the one thing I would suggest is since he seems to know what he wants to figure out which of those things is most important. He may not find a troop that fits everything he is looking for, so what are the things he wants most?

 

Would he rather go camping different places every month but never have a typical HA BSA trip or the other way?

 

I would also mention that if we went with a troop other than with his den that he will make friends. My son switched troops after a year along with a few other scouts, for a few months his little group of 4 stuck together with everything. This summer all 4 are going to Phimont and none of them are tent buddies with each other, in fact unless it's only a few boys from his patrol he normally doesn't tent with them any more. And now he has a huge group of friends from another town/school. Other than football season (big football rivals) you never know they went to different schools since they are such good friends. We've even had a few others from our town join this troop so the original 4 has grown.

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I'm not proud to admit it, but I think in the Scout District where I live there isn't a Troop that would meet your son's expectations.

Even when I think about the Council, which is small having only about 100 Troops, I only come up with one or two who might meet the grade.

The Council does offer HA experiences.

High Adventure comes under the Council Camping Committee, they have a four year rotation one year it's Philmont, then Sea Base, then Northern Tier and the National Jamboree.

While the age for most BSA High Adventure Bases was 14, I seem to remember reading that it is now down to 13.

Again in the District and Council where I live Venturing has never really managed to get a hold, but it might be different in your area. At 14 your son might be able to join a Crew or a Ship that might meet his needs?

 

I have always thought that mastering the skills needed to become a First Class Scout is the key that opens the door for being able to do more exciting and more adventuring Scouting.

Maybe looking for a Troop that stresses traditional Scouting skills and where he will master the ground work and rules might be an idea?

It's also worth remembering that Troops do change, sometimes for the better.

We do have a new Troop which started with a Webelos Den a year or so back. The Den Leader was the wife of the guy who is now SM. The Troop is very new, not very big but hasn't as yet developed any bad habits and seems to have a good grasp of how to work with these little guys. Last time I looked there were only eight boys in the Troop. I feel sure if the Troop does survive it is not going to fall into the same old same old.

Again maybe there is a group like that in your area? Or maybe the time has come for you to have a word with your Membership chair, and DE about starting one?

Ea.

 

 

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Your Web seems pretty determined to find exactly what he is looking for. Unfortunately, I too wonder if one exists that will satisfy him. Or when he thinks he does find it, what happens when after he joins he finds they arent what he thought they are. Im afraid this is setting up to go terribly bad somewhere down the road and you may find your Troop shopping is going to continue with each disappointment. Be very cautious in letting him focus so much on his perception of the perfect troop. If they are boy lead, they are going to be far from perfect. If he pelts a SM with 101 questions, the SM may decide this kid is too high of maintenance and respond by pointing him towards a neighboring troop (which may be inadvertently what his WDL is doing).

We all want our boys to make the choice of a Troop, but I feel this is the time when we need to be the adult and make the final call. We will see things differently than the boys will and hopefully have the ability to make the best call based upon a whole set of different parameters. Ive seen this let the boy pick scenario play out numerous times, sometimes as an attention getter (not in your case), and found that six months later the kid is miserable or already on his way out of Scouts.

Dont also forget to consider your time and drive to this Troop before you let him expand the net too wide; there will be the forgotten handbook or extra trips needed for different events and duties, MB appointments, or traffic issues. Cross town trips to a CO can be a problem in the long run.

Maybe you let him narrow the choices down and guide him to the best choice with your input. I think that is actually what hes asking you for with his might be easier comment. Dont let perfect get in the way of good enough. Dont make a mountain out of this; study the options and make a call. Taking him out of his comfort zone is necessary for growth and will happen many many times during his Scouting career. But we A-types hate that!

 

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In addition to going to troop meetings, I think if you really want to find out how a troop operates -- and why it operates that way -- ask if you can visit the monthly PLC.

 

At a PLC you'll find out who's really planning and organizing, how open they are to new ideas, and what it is they put a premium on.

 

One troop meeting is only a snapshot. You might hit the off week that all they have going on is a merit badge class, or the dreaded tent cleaning party, but miss the other three weeks when they were gearing up and gearing down from an outing. But a PLC will at a minimum show you what they're doing that month and more likely give you a feel for what's going on the next several months, and as I said it will show you who is really leading the troop and how they're going about it.

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"In addition to going to troop meetings, I think if you really want to find out how a troop operates -- and why it operates that way -- ask if you can visit the monthly PLC."

 

Not on my watch!

Last thing I'd want at a PLC is any unnecessary adults.

The PLC belongs to the youth leaders. It is in my eyes a time for them to do their thing and nothing else.

Ea.

 

 

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I have about 25 sets of parents that drive past 10 different troops to come to ours. It is because their boys chose this troop. Some came for friends, most came for the program.

 

Your son should go to the troop that offers him the challenge he is looking for, anything less will leave him hungry and leaving scouting in 12-18 months. I've seen it happen more than a few times, when the dad forces the son to go where the dad's friends are, and in a year, the boy is out of scouting.

 

Strangers are friends after the first campfire.

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Fascinating... contrast these two statements:

 

"Not on my watch!

Last thing I'd want at a PLC is any unnecessary adults."

 

with the two that immediately follow them:

 

"The PLC belongs to the youth leaders. It is in my eyes a time for them to do their thing and nothing else."

 

Apparently the PLC belongs to them as long as they do what "I'd want" on "my watch."

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Callooh,

 

If there was an award for hair splitting, I'm thinking you just earned it with your last post.....

 

I think E's position is clear......

 

 

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'and mumbled "It'd be easier if you did."'

While he knows it's his decision, it seems he would like your views on each troop because of your adult level experiences and wisdom.

 

Also, each troop's meetings can be their normal average, above average, below average. Alas, which one the visitor views is potluck. Ideally, each troop would get four visits - one for each week of the month to view their typical monthly cycle.

 

It may be better to split up when the two of you arrive. He sits/interacts with the Scouts while you chat with several of the adults. If you both ask the same questions, so much the better

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A couple of points here:

1. When my troop has Webelos coming to visit, we always have one or two Scouts act as their hosts for the evening. These are usually really friendly Scouts who like the challenge of introducing every guest to every member of the troop.

2. We always make sure the Webelos participate in the troop meetings. What fun is it for the Webelos to come and sit and be quiet? We also make sure they come to a troop meeting where there is going to be activity. Webelos are always more than welcome to come to a COH, or when we do our semi-annual elections, but I tell the WL that if they come that night, their kids will be bored and not have much of a chance to get to know the Scouts in the troop.

3. I always take about 15-20 minutes during the visit (usually when our Scouts are having their patrol meetings) to sit down and meet with the Webelos and their parents. I answer their questions and give them a very realistic view of the troop. In addition to telling them how much fun we have, I tell them about the work they are expected to do and the responsibilities they have. Also, while the Scouts get to plan their own activities and events, they need to realize that since Scouts are doing the planning, things are going to run smooth 100% of the time. Since we've done that the past few years, the number of Scouts joining the troop has increased and they understand what is expected of them when they do come in. The Webelos (parents) that want a merit badge mill usually don't join us. Or, if they don't like the idea of having to take their turn doing dishes or hauling water on a campout, they won't last very long in our troop. Being very open and honest is usually the best way to go.

 

You may wish to call the troop you visited before (the one that ignored the guests) and let them know what happened. Let them know that if they want Webelos to join, they need show that (let them participate, acknowledge them, etc.) If they don't like your ideas, you know they don't want you.

 

Ultimately, most Scouts troops (at least the ones in my area) are about 80% the same. How well a new Scout will integrate into the troop depends on the how well he meshes with the personalities of the Scouts already in the troop. My biggest goal when a Webelo comes to visit is to have him interact with the Scouts in the troop. If they relate well to each other, then the troop is usually a good fit. If they don't relate, then the troop usually not a good fit. I've had parents call me to tell me about their sons that were different than most kids (in one way or another). For example, if I knew your son was coming to the meeting, I would pair him up with one of our more serious Scouts (our Scouts range from super serious to major goofball, with lots of levels in between).

 

As far as the sports go, I always tell the kids to try their best and go out and have fun with it. We had a Scout several years ago that was very serious and always wanted to be the best at everything. He refused to do any sports because he wasn't very good at it. Finally, after a lot of convincing, we got him to have fun with it. He enjoyed it and got to be better friends with his troop mates because he participated instead of just sitting off to the side.

 

Good luck with your search.

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