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Beavah

Shop around, or not? The American way or the WOSM way?

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Yah, in da parent thread folks were expressin' the conventional wisdom that the proper thing to do as a webelos scout is to shop around for a troop, tryin' to find one that fit the style that yeh wanted (or rather, that the parents wanted).

 

I confess I fall into that way of thinkin' myself, because I do think there is such a thing as a good or bad fit, both for a boy and for a family.

 

But now here's the thing.

 

That is generally not how Scouting is done in most of the rest of the world.

 

In most of da rest of the world, yeh stay in your unit / "group", and yeh move from young cubs to older cubs to Scouts to Ventures to Rovers to Old Farts to Over the Hill Farts to Dead Farts. ;) There's no notion at all about goin' out half way through your scouting career as a youth to go shopping for a new unit.

 

And I dare say the retention is often better.

 

For one thing, yeh get much stronger connections among the adults, and among the kids. Where we have mostly make-believe scouts workin' with cubs as Den Chiefs, youth leadership and service to the younger kids is much more natural and common in da rest of the world, when everyone is in the same unit. It's more economical; yeh share more resources without duplicatin'. Younger kids get to see what's possible when they get older, they aren't confined to the one visitor's campout.

 

So are we doin' our usual American thing of assumin' that a free market and makin' kids go shoppin' is always the right way to go, when perhaps reality is that in this case other things are more important?

 

Just tossin' it out there for discussion.

 

Beavah

 

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We went window shopping, but even so, we pretty much knew that the boys would go with our sister troop.

 

They knew some of the leaders from previous years as DL's. They knew the younger patrols of scouts. Same CO. Meets the ssame night, etc.....

 

And while I totally let my son make the decision, I do know parents wil have alot of input. If mom or dad has a cub scout and a boy scout, and both meet at the same co on the same night, then mom or dad will have alot of weight on the troop choice.

 

At least our troop meets an hour after the pack does, so there is still freedom to choose a troop from a different Co is wanted to.

 

A few of our Boy Scouts have come from other packs, and a few of our cub scouts have gone to other troops.

 

Honestly though, I think it is because of school buddies. The scouts will pick a CO based on where their friends are.

 

We have 5 packs and 4 troops withina a 6 or 7 mile space. There are 3 elementry schools , but only one middle school and one high school for this area - so you can have school friends in all the different troops .

 

 

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Beavah, well said. I think the WOSM modelis best, but biggest challenge to implementation may be the very transient nature of most Americans that would prevent the building of long term bonds.

 

That is not to say it is not a worthy goal to pursue.

 

Looking back on scouting when I was a kid...as a military brat, scouting was the one constant in my life as we moved base to base. Though it was not conscious decision, I joined the pack or troop that was on the base we were stationed at. Some units were great, others stunk. But we military kids looked at the pack/troop as "ours, right or wrong." Though we brats came from a bunch of different places, and rarely spent more than a year or two together, we had the common bond of being scouts and military kids. So I'm rambling a bit, but what you said resonnated with me.

 

I think too many parents and kids are looking for that perfect troop. It doesn't exist. Make the best of it, bloom where you are planted. Naturally, there are definitely times to depart from a unit and we know what they are. But otherwise, I'd recommend the model you presented.

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Air force brat.....

 

Spent my early life base to base....I barely remember Fitz in Denver...

 

My current situation, we get boys started in scouting, their family situation improves and they move to the burbs....that is my biggest problem with retention......Well divorces or changes in custody.....

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I went straight into one of the 2 troops our pack was associated with and there were troop problems. They ran a good troop but you didnt find out wh till you got there. what they were doing is picking the best scouts and weeding the rest out. I got weeded. The other Troop had some serious issues and Just wasnt going to be good.

 

We then window shoped and found another troop that was small and fun and personable that we joined. the leaders didnt want to take training or improve their program and it fell apart. We left just before it did though.

 

We then really window shopped looked at many troops looked at the activites they did and went to a couple meetings and an event. Looked at how they reacted with people and how they were currently running.

 

The Troop I ened up in was the Troop i Stayed in and Got my Eagle in. If asked today that is my Troop. I changed districts to come to the third Troop and am still involded in that district (even though I live in the other one). If i had not belived i could window shop and stayed with either of the Troops my pack was associated with I would Probably have Droped out of scouting.

 

The ability to Window Shop for Troops is Very important in my opinion.

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In most of da rest of the world, yeh stay in your unit / "group", and yeh move from young cubs to older cubs to Scouts to Ventures to Rovers to Old Farts to Over the Hill Farts to Dead Farts. There's no notion at all about goin' out half way through your scouting career as a youth to go shopping for a new unit.

Nothing worse than a dead fart that hangs around!

So is this model out of necessity or choice? I'm thinking the options are limited for kids elsewhere. BSA oversaturates the markets to have multiple units sitting on top of each other, fighting for the same boys. JMO

So across the pond, might there be less units in a village or town? Which would lead to youth staying in their "group" since there aren't other options available.

And what about the church influence over here. LDS uses the Scouting program as their Youth program. Churches use the Scouting program as an outreach of their youth ministry.

My understanding from talking to friends in Europe, is that Scouting is a totally seperate entity and not connected with the church, at least in the sense of not being an active part of their outreach ministry.

I joined my youth troop, because our church was the center of activities for all my friends. We were always at the church doing stuff, whether it was choir practice, Sunday School, or Youth group meetings. Scouting was just an extension of that.

My son joined the troop he's in because of the boys in his den, (and maybe a little coaxing from Dad..as well)He would have been just as happy going to the other troop we looked at because he had friends over there. But they were totally different groups, Big structured troop vs Small undisciplined troop. Ultimately he liked what BST had to offer.

Kind of like brussel sprouts, not my favorite, but if it's between brussel sprouts and going hungry. I'll choose to eat them. :)(This message has been edited by OwnTheNight)(This message has been edited by OwnTheNight)

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One of the things that supports staying in your group that I saw in the UK back in the 90s was the fact that in addition to the the unit leaders, you also had a set of group leaders who worked with all three units, Pack, Troop, and I cannot recall what they called the Ventures (now Explorers in the UK)

 

The group leaders worked and guided the individual units and coordinated amongst the three. Also meetings occurred periodically with all the leaders being present, giving not only a familiarity, but also a sense of "group culture." So as one moves up from Cubs to Scouts, or Scouts to Ventures (now Explorers), there was less shock for the newbies as they knew the leaders and the group had the same culture.

 

Over here each unit is independent, despite being at the same CO. I remember never seeing Boy Scouts from my CO's troop when I was a Cub. When I was a DE, one pack was sending all their boys to another CO's troop b/c of disagreements with the CO's SM, to the point that the troop folded. And at least in my neck of the woods, we have the attiutude from a lot of Boy Scout leaders that they do not want to have ANYTHING to do with Cubs until they are Weeblos IIs getting ready to cross.

 

Example is I have a bunch of Bears chomping at the bit and cannot wait to go camping more. I asked an SM talk to his SPL about remembering the Webelos in some of their activities next year. While the response was not negative, the look I got was "I didn't think Webelos one did stuff with Boy Scouts until after the Web II's cross over," and a teh actuall comment was a non-committal " We'll see."

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In the UK we operate on the Scout Group principle (the situation is similar in many commonwealth countries). You can join the group at 6 as a member of the Beaver colony, progress through cub scouting and join the troop at 10 yrs old. At 14 1/2 you can join an explorer unit. The group is manged by a Group Scout Leader, and each section managed by its own scouter. I must admit we treat the attached explorers as members of our scout group rather than a completely seperate unit. Many towns have multiple units so choice can exist, (depends largely on finding sufficent adults who will give up their time to support scouting). Where I live we have only one scout group and attached Explorer unit. We are an open group and so not sponsored by any church.

 

Pros?

The scouts know all the leaders in the group and so makes events easier to organise (donn't have to introduce new people all of the time).

The scouts get a sense of continuity throughout their scouting journey.

As leaders we get to know the kids really well, see them grow and develop in young adults.

Able to share resources efficently

Parents in town know who to contact to talk about scouting.

the same with civic organisations - one point of contact, easy

Cons?

You can very easily fall into "group think" where the only way to do things is our way!

If the programme isn't managed carefully progression through the group can become very stilted and unimaginative

petty squables can affect the whole group.

 

Does it Work? It does for us

 

cheers

 

Gareth

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The reasons why you shop around vs. sticking to a linear progression are part of our culture and economics. My wife goes to work at a location over 10 miles from home, I go to school over 10 miles from home, my sons currently go to school 2 miles from our home but by the time they are in scouts they will be again going to school 10 miles from our home. And none of those locations is in the same direction and are at least 10 miles apart. So if we had to go to each of those locations twice per day (pick and drop) you're talking 80 miles of driving. In most other places in the world that simply doesn't happen, the public transportation is heavily subsidized with high taxes, and the distances are shorter.

 

So in basically a 100 sq mile area how many BSA units do we have. Counted them up and we have 11 Troops to pick from currently. In our own neighborhood, or part of the county there are 2, with 1 within biking/walking distance. But then that's the other thing...we live in a suburban area and you're taking your life into your own hands to ride a bike in this area on the main roads.

 

In addition to that out of those 11 troops I think only 6 have Packs in the same CO. So why a CO doesn't have both I don't have both I don't know. But it's okay to shop around in any case since we have to go by 11 Troops during the week any way.

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Gareth,

 

Thanks for the update on UK scout groups! It's been almost 15+ years since I was there and my memory is hazy.

 

One thing I really liked abotu the group model, esp. since becoming a Cub leader, is that units in the group work together andtake care of each other. I've seen Explorers and Scouts working with Cubs when I was over there.

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We use the the explorers all the time with the cubs and beavers. The interaction is different between beaver and explorer than between beaver and adult. Recently the Explorers planned and ran a brilliant incident night hike for the cubs. It shows the cubs that the stuff they are starting to do now is relevant and useful as they develop throughout their scouting experience.

 

I think one way to look at the linear group method is:

Beaver Scouts; introduce the concepts (for patrols read lodges, a little bit of nights away)

Cub Scouting; give skill to the concepts (Sixes led by sixers and seconders, more camping)

Scouting; Developing the skills themselves (patrol method, camping et..)

Explorer Scouts; Exploiting those skills for themselves

 

Cheers

Gareth

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Primates have a social order and this can be observed in many ways, mostly through various behavioral interactions, sometimes associated with dominance or other forms of status. Whether this structure occurs as a result of individuals continually sorting themselves into ever-changing subgroups, or whether this occurs through a more rigid social hierarchy that is enforced from the start (ethnicity, cast, tribe)...the same sorts of bad feelings occur either way: resentments, envy, false pride, etc. We are monkeys, after all.

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I guess I am of the belief people need to know that they can shop around. If the troop associated with you unit is good, then I believe the people will automatically flow to it due to the familiarity and comfort of already knowing people because they crossed over before you.

 

But, how many do we loose because they have no interest in the troop associated with their units, and do not know they can shop around? I know alot is just Webelos burnout, but I know there are some who look at what is comming next and just say "No, thank-you", when they may get excited had they visited a different unit.

 

Also how many who join troops and get bored or discouraged with the program, just drop out, because they don't know they can go out and shop around?

 

It really should not be a well kept secret in order to keep you cub scouts chained to your CO when it is time to move to a troop. If your troop is not interesting the scouts from your feeder pack then you should look at your program.

 

I know there are exceptions, like the one troop who has a Unit Commissioner from another CO, who is using his job to steer the units away from their own CO's troop. But for the most part, if you run a good program then most scouts will stay due to a sense of loyalty and familiarity. But allow the ones who need a different fit to find a different home.

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That has been my attitude. Yes I want the boys but I really want them to stay in scouting. So if another Troop is more to our liking than great.

 

I really like the WOSM model but the US seems to like to move around more. Schools, Churches, Social Groups. If folks think the next place might give them what they want they will often move. So I don't see why Scouts would be any different.

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