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Bob White

An Opportunity Lost

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Although I agree with you John wishing that the others change is a waste of energy. As scout leaders we can only control how we carry out the promise of the scouting program. If we do our role correctly perhaps the scouts we develop will grow to be the cooperative coaches in the future.

 

But many leaders are there own worst enemies. By not following the elements of the Patrol method nad the leadership methods of the BSA they basically push boys to team sports. The social aspect of belonging to a group is part of the make-up of a young teen. If scoutiing does not provide the group belonging and esteem that boys require they will be drawn to team sports, group social events and gangs. But toomany scout leaders find it easier to blame sports and extra-curricular events than to use the features scouting provides to compete on the same level.

 

Well it's late and I've got enough Fast Start Tapes dubbed for tomorrow so I'm heading to bed.

 

Bob White

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For some schools "band" is a class with a grade.

 

Bob White, Thanks for bringing up this subject. I think it is something all Scout leaders need to consider. Even adults will not attend if they feel they are not part of the group or contributing anything.

 

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All Kinds of rewards await scouts that attain eagle, including scholarships. contact your local scout service center for information.

Bob

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Excellent discussion and points made.

 

A little story about merging patrols: we had a SPL who *really* wanted the troop to do well at a camporee. An obstacle (in his thinking) to this objective was allowing the new boy patrol to participate as a patrol. His solution was to merge its members with other patrols. It was pointed out to him that the new boy patrol members' morale would be damaged by this, and that they were going to do ok because the Troop Guide would be going with them, and that if he was still worried, he could also send the ASPL with them. He still had misgivings (he was, I think, at this point putting his desires ahead of the other boys) as did the Troop Guide (who, oddly, thought he could dump his patrol and go with one he thought would do better). Anyway, the troop came in 1st place! And the new boy patrol? First amoung all the patrols! [Of course, the ASPL and TG contributed greatly to this.] The new boy patrol? They remained a patrol. Some of their members became Eagle scouts, and some are still with the troop, ten years later, as adults.

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Great thread! Absolutely, boys have to make choices in their commitments. Scouts need to feel needed, as well as wanted, if we expect them to choose scouting as their main commitment.

 

Choosing athletic and scholastic teams are options available to most youth. They are almost always good programs. Unfortunately, they're often run by coaches that think their program is the only one a kid needs, and they make it real difficult for said kid to be involved in anything else.

 

As sctmom mentioned, band is a class with a grade. This grade includes a lot of afterschool practice, football games, parades and competitions. Often our scouts have to miss campouts and other scout events because they conflict on weekends. But there is good news down here: when our scouts moved up into the high school, concerned parents and scouters met with the band director about the conflict between his Monday practice and our troop meetings. Result? The band director changed his practice days. How 'bout that?

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Good discussion!

 

To encourage the sports players to attend meetings, our troop allows players to come straight from practice to the meeting in their sports clothes. Instead of getting on them about uniforms, they are praised for their dedication. With a little bit of planning and effort, their Scout Handbooks, compass, etc., can be pre-loaded into Dads car or stashed in their sports gear bag. After Friday night games, guys will drive out to the campouts late or on Saturday morning.

 

When talking attendance, its not too hard to keep track of excused absences for band/sports/school load/high-priority family activities (that are preferably reported to the PL ahead of time) and unexcused absences when a boy just doesnt feel like attending. When the unexcused absences start to stack up, its time for an extra SM conference to find out whats going on.

 

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Probably too late to reply to this thread but I've been busy. There's a war on you know. AND I admit to not reading every response in detail....but here's my two cents. I played lots of sports in school year round, had homework, but NEVER missed a Scout meeting because of sports and NEVER missed a Scout outing and NEVER came to Scouts without my uniform, sometimes changing at the Scout Hut, because I understood that the standard was to be in uniform. What's different now??...not much. Except when you peel the onion back on the sports stuff the kids are not on a school team but in some sort of league that practices unususlly long hours and always has games on Saturday. Sometimes that league play is in addition to the school teams and the kid is playing because the PARENTS think he is the next Tiger Woods of soccer and there is a scholarship at the end. Easier to get a scholarship because you made Eagle not on your athletic prowress. Other times Johnny is playing in a county rec league because he was cut from the school team. It's that self esteem thing I guess. Oft times Johnny would be better off just doing scouts. I have long discussions with parents over this. It seems it's Scouting that always gets second billing to sports teams. Seldom do you ever hear of a kid missing a game to come to a Scout event. I have never advised parents to make a choice between scouting and sports but to seek a balance. The boys just flat aren't going to keep up with their peers in Scouting if they don't attend meetings and work on advancement. That might not bother some parents but it bothers the kids. You can see it on their faces at courts of honor if they fall way behind. And as for uniforms...it's the standard. If you don't wear your Scout uniform to soccer games then don't wear your Soccer uniform to scout meetings.

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Dan hit it on the head, there, with the Saturday games. That really makes a difference.

 

Also, it's quite common on these competitive teams that if you miss so many practices or games you're either benched or you don't make the team next time. In our soccer leagues, for example, there are only so many slots and kids who don't make the team play in the recreational league. So, Scouts often takes a "back seat" because we don't bench kids.

 

However, I've been successful in talking with coaches about Scout/players and it's often possible to strike a balance. Kids miss practices for all sorts of other reasons, like sickness or travel. But you have to be willing to make that extra effort to balance both activities. (Don't get me started on Band! )

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I think we all are faced with boys making choices. On one hand we want the scouting program to touch as many boys as possible, on the other hand being overly flexible in terms of participation tends to negatively impact the unit. Its a difficult balance. I try to communicate that Scouting is for life, is for a season. I think that there is room for both. Teaching these boys now about a Life balance between scouts, school, sports, church and home life is, to my way of thinking, a good thing. Ultimately it should be peer pressure from within the patrol along with leadership and participation requirements from the PLC that cause a boy to participate ... the same things at work in his prots team. Some boys do this well, others cannot. It is difficult to lose a boy, but sometimes that is the best result for all. Scouting is about commitment to a team and a goal as much as any sport, and like any team it cannot be successful if only half the players show up.

 

Great thread

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We've had an Eagle Scout in our Troop who made 2nd team all state in his sport. Did he miss activities? Yes. Did we miss him at meetings and campouts? Yes. Did his absence ruin his Scouting experience, or that of others in his patrol or troop? Absolutely not. He participated as much as he could during the season, and when the season was over, Scouts beame his #1 priority. We've got another guy who just made Eagle. Played football and wrestled, although through four years on both teams, I don' think he ever started. But he gave those sports everything he had during the season. When he wasn't wresting or playing football, he was among the better SPLs we've had, and has done a great job for more than a year as the JASM in charge of our Troop JLT, and on staff 3 years for Council JTL. We've got 1/2 dozen kids in the band program. Marching band means none of them get to campouts in the fall until Saturday morning, if they're close enough, and winter concert band has mandatory practices on our Troop meeting night. Two of these guys are Eagle (actually, one is waiting for his BOR), and two more are likely to be in the next year or so.

 

My point is that there are other priorities in boys life than Scouts: Sports, band, jobs, girls, cars, scholastics, etc. Maybe it's unofficially, but I think that's one of the requirments for advanced ranks in Scouts: Prioritizing what is important for each boy. Let's face it, it won't be any easier for a guy once he get out of Scouts. College seems to have a way of making a kid have to prioritize, too. And so does adult life. Balancing Scouting with everything else a boy has going is good experience. And those who are likely to be succesfull learn early how to pull off this trick.

 

But I certainly agree with Bob. If a program is enticing to boys, it becomes easier for a boy to chose Scouts over other activities, or at least want to balance them. A poor program gives a boy an easy way to convince himself, and others, that something else is more important.

 

Mark

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Need some advice about handling conflict with scoutmaster over our son who is constantling being denied leadership opportunities and advancement opportunities. The leader is constantly telling him to slow down in earning advancements so that he doesn't tick off the older boys who haven't earned them yet. He is also receiving comments about being a rich kid whose parents are pushing him. We are not rich and we do not push him. He is just a kid who is well organized and likes to complete his requirements in a timely manner. We are supportive but have never done any of the work for him (I don't see how you can when the kids earn the badges with a merit badge counselor or at camp and merit badge days). Recently I lost my cool when our son was not nominated for any leadership positions after a comment was made by an adult supervising the nominations that he could not have a leadership position because he never came to campouts. This is a boy who came to almost every campout from 5th to 8th grade. In 9th grade he was in the marching band and was unable to attend any fall campouts. He as attended two of the three campouts offered since the fall. He is also involved in church activities which occasionally conflict on the weekends along with an occasional family activity. My son is so discouraged and hurt by the comments that he is ready to switch troops. Should he switch? Should we talk to the committee?

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123,

 

Welcome to ther forum!

 

Sorry to say your son's experience happens all too frequently, particularly the leadership issue. Positions like Senior Patrol Leader and Patrol Leader should be voted on, and your son's Troop and Patrol should have established criteria for being eligible. If they do, you son should either respect them and work to meet the criteria, or work to change the rules in a Scout - like manner. But if someone is being arbitrary about the rules (if he is being told "you can't run because you haven't been to the minimum number of campouts"), have him ask for that rule in writing. If it can't be produced, I would certainly have him request a Scoutmaster conference to settle this.

 

I would however caution against you as a parent getting involved until it is absolutely necesary to protect his interest in Scouts. More harm can be done if he thinks, or others in the Troop think, that you fixed the problem for him. It is a boy - run program, or at least should be. Let your boy handle it. Giving your son the chance to fix a situation, or get the information that allows him to understand and accept it, will do more toward allowing him to grow into a man than if he had the position all along.

 

Good luck to you, your son, and your Troop!!

 

Mark

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That's the same good advice I might give at first Mark, but if the family eventually views the adult as a frustrating wall for continuing scouting, then I would start by calling the committee chair. But one thing I've learned about program problems, volunteers are more willing to listen when you asks questions.

 

"There is an appearance that my son isn't allowed to advance, can you help me understand how the program works?".

 

"I've talked to the SM, but I don't understand his approach for my son. Can you explain it differently so I can understand better?"

 

"My son is frustrated, his handbook says advance, yet he is asked to slow down, I'm not sure I understand. Can you help me so I can explain it to my son?"

 

There are two sides to every story and approaching the situation from a curiosity point of view may enlighten a lot of people and lead to a calm solution, or understanding.

 

Another troop might be the solution. I hope not.

 

Good luck.

 

Barry

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