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Bob White

An Opportunity Lost

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A very good point was raised in another string by a parent whose son picked soccer over scouts because with soccer he felt he was an indispensable member of a team. He believed his presence on the team made the difference between winning and losing.

 

I don't blame him for picking the soccer team. I think given the feelings of self-worth that being a member of the "team" gave him it was a logical decision.

 

What I see is an opportunity lost by the troop.

How many Positions of responsibilities (POR) does his troop have? My guess is that the troop offices might be filled and the patrols have Patrol Leaders and Assistants but the members of the patrol have no specific responsibilities. It is no wonder that this scout doesn't feel his presence is vital to the operation of the patrol. He is just one of many worker bees. If enough of the patrol members don't show up they know that the Scoutmaster will just merge patrols until there are enough people to do whatever needs doing. So this scout does not see his personal attendance as vital to the patrol "wining or losing" as he does on the soccer team.

 

What can a unit do to combat this? The patrol method allows for every boy to have a POR. Just like every player on a sports team having a specific role to play in the success of the team. With every scout in the troop having a specific duties and a POR everyone can feel the same importance to the troop and patrol that this scout feels to his soccer team.

 

Does every scout in your troop have a position?

 

This scout knows that if he doesnt go to a game his team will be short handed. If the soccer coaches rearranged teams at every game then this boy would not have the same feeling that his attendance mattered.

 

Patrols are like the soccer team. If leaders rearrange the patrols when scouts are absent then the scouts will not develop a feeling or understanding that their personal attendance is important.

 

How many of you merge patrols at meetings or outings? Do you see how you are defeating the purpose of having Patrols?

 

The same program elements that made the scout choose soccer could have been used in the troop and patrol to make him pick scouting. But it wasnt.

 

Food for thought,

Bob White

 

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Bob,

 

You know from my posts in that thread that I agree with you. While my son is still in Cubs, I still look at it as a team effort. Imagine how thrilled a kid would be with only 2 kids in his den. Eventually they would lose interest without other den members to interact with. Scouting has elements of both individual and team sports. My son played baseball and basketball and knows that no game is won by a single player. He takes Tae Kwon Do and knows that his success or failure rest solely on his shoulders and the work he puts into it. A Den/Patrol should function as a unit and their success depends on each other. Their advancements often depend on their individual efforts. Trust me, I do understand that kids are spread pretty thin these days and some of their activities will come nto conflict occasionally. Occasionally is the key word here. If the conflicts are chronic, then maybe the boy and his family need to rethink their priorities and make some hard choices.

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Wonderfully insightful. I'm still chewing on it.

 

Within a team (patrol) concept of operation, every member of the team is a cog in the wheel without whom the team does not function at its greatest capabilities. We recently had a discussion resulting from a JLT about formally establishing patrol scribes, quartermasters, etc. - something not done in the past with our troop, but something done with a troop I was a member of as a Scout.

 

No, every Scout does not have a position. Yes, we do merge patrols on a fairly regular basis for outings, but not for meetings. Yes, I see how this can undermine patrol functions. For instance, at times there will be two patrol leaders in the same merged "patrol." While not experiencing any open conflict or hostility, certainly one of the two must feel slighted.

 

Your post brought this project back to my front burner.

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Bob White,

If you were writing about me, I think you misunderstood what I was saying. My son did not choose soccer over Scouts, we are both very involved in Scouts (actually he has just about finished with his first class and he just crossed over last June). What I was saying was if he had to choose between going on a Scout outing or playing a soccer game, I would expect him to play the soccer game since he had a greater commitment to the team. If it ever came to a point that we had to choose between to the two, I would push for him to stay in Scouts and drop soccer. What I have a problem with is a Troop/Pack saying that in order for a scout to be active they must attend a certain percentage of scout function and meetings. To me this against what Scouts is about and that is creating a well rounded citizen. By putting this type of requirements on a Scout means that they lose the chance to experience other aspects of their life. I have also said the only exception to this is if a Scout as a POR, in that case they should put Scouts first since other people are relying on them to help make the troop run correctly.

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Even without a title for POR, isn't every member of a patrol important? If half the boys in a patrol thinks "I'm just a worker bee, it doesn't matter if I miss this campout", then what does that do to the patrol on the campout?

 

Patrols are recommended to be 8 boys for a reason. If only 2 show up, you can't function very well as a patrol. I think Bob White has a very good point that on a sports team everyone has a "position" but so many times a scout is "just another scout" not "the best pancake cooker" or quartermaster or whatever. That everyone wants to feel they are truly contributing to the "team", whether it is on the baseball field, the campout, or at work.

 

 

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Bob White

Again if you were talking about me, to answer some of your additional question. Yes every person in the troop that needs a POR has gotten one. We are using the Patrol method and are the best troop in this regard in the local area (both the Webelos and Troops got special mention at the last Webelos/Scout camporee for using the Patrol method). My son will be taking on a POR when he completes his first class as a Den Chief, as this will not conflict with soccer. I also forsee that he will be taking on other PORs in the future because he is that type of kid.

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Sctmom,

(Again I am assuming that this is about what I posted)

I agree with you that everyboy in a patrol is important. I expect my Scout to go on every campout that does not conflict with soccer. The only thing I am saying is that there are different levels of commitment and we as leaders should be aware that there are going to be other things in a Scouts life that call for a higher level of commitment. For example Sctmom, if you as a leader had a council Cub/Webelos camporee scheduled for the same weekend as your aniversary which one would you do. I know that what I would do is make sure the Scouts in my group, that were going, were taken care of and spend the weekend with my wife.

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fboisseau, Actually I wasn't talking about what you posted. I don't remember anything about your son playing soccer. I was only commenting on Bob's original post, not about the boy who does sports and scouts. I think both are important and Scouting should encourage boys to be involved in other acitivities. I just think Bob White brought up a good point. I know I've seen what he is talking about. Been guilty of it myself. My son is "just another scout" and he feels that way too. So he feels no need to try to go on campouts, even if he has no other obligations or plans.

 

One reason boys do keep showing up for their sports team is they feel they make a difference. Even in sports some people start to feel they don't make a difference. They are the ones that quit.

 

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While I would never attempt to speak four Bob, I think what he means is that Boy Scout Troops should strive to have the same emthusiasm and pride and commaroderie as that soccer player he mentioned. The player wants to be there because he feels the team is counting on him. How many scouts feel they HAVE to go on a campout or his patrol suffers?

 

Is that the gist Bob?

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OGE hit it right on the head. I am in no way suggesting the boy did a bad thing. My point is that the methods and program elements of scouting, when used, can bring about the same dedication to attendance that the scout felt to the soccer team. That there is a reason that every boy, regardless of the size of the patrol or troop, needs to have a genuine position of responsibility and the structure of the patrol needs to be maintained and not merged if the scouts are to feel that there attendance makes a difference.

 

Bob White

(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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One of the things I have learned is that the opportunies that scouting does not offer is scholarships. We as a troop have many boys who are gifted either physically or academically. To compete with those options is fruitless. As a boy scout he is being trained to choose between the options available in a given situation, as adult leaders we have to support that choice and

try to keep scouting in their lives. Sometimes we are successful, somtimes not.

 

Those who are remaining are the ones we have to support and teach and foster the scouting spirit. As I see it, we are the team that they can join. This will carry them through their lifes.

 

Believe me, I am one of them.

 

YIS

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Very thoughtful thread. Our troop seems to be in eternal competition with swim practice (run by a fanatic who boots off kids who miss), band practice (ditto, different fanatic), various sports etc. Unlike these other activities, we do not berate or punish scouts who miss a meeting, so they miss scouts when there is a conflict. Bob's point is good, but other youth leaders should give their kids some slack and not act like western civilization is at stake.

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