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C.O.P.E. courses are great - but most require boys to be 14 - I think most of your boys are 11 and 12?


you can use some of the technics used in such courses, or you can look for something similar elsewhere - for example, a Christian camp we like to use for our younger boys has a similar low ropes course that does not have such an age requirement.


In the short run - at meetings and such - you can always do team building relays and such - skill tests - knot tying, or the one where you tie a knot with a HUGE (read FAT) rope and the boys cannot let go of their section - and one has to direct the others - there are quite a few games that challenge teamwork in a group.


Problem is - most of the boys stick with a "friend' for these, or they still cheer on the strong and ridicule the ones who make a mistake, and once the 'game' is over - they don't apply that "game" teamwork mentality to getting along and making dinner!


When we were first trying to re-introduce the patrol method - and trying to get our boys to work together -we had a campout that was planned with team activities & team goals. At that point in time, we were still very much adult lead, but were breaking away from it. At that point in my experience with the troop - we had only used patrols to line up for flag! honest! LOL! our boys totally did NOT understand "team"


here's how it worked:


In our case, the campout was about canoeing skills and we had a number of 'games' or contests that the boys earned points for in groups of 2 or 3, or whole patrols. the final score was computed with a total of "event" points - but you could also raise your patrols score by "Living the Law". Each adult , Jr leader, and the SPL(as he didn't belong to a patrol) - was given a bag of poker chips worth so many 'points'. When a leader witnessed a boy or group of boys 'living the law' they could award a chip - which were then turned in to the scorekeepers. The idea was that even if a team were poor canoeists - they could still "win" the competition by helping out their team mates, doing a good turn, being courteous, kind, obedient, etc. It got them in a mode of constantly thinking about team work and the Scout law - over the entire weekend; not just during the competitions.


what happened is that two patrols tied for first place in the canoing events - but when they searched their pockets and turned in all their 'chips' - one was a clear and definate winner. their award was certificates for a trip out for ice cream that night.


In another thread - you mentioned that you have alot of ADHD or similar behavior boys in your troop. that 'instant reward' of a poker chip or token is something I have used with my ADD son often over the years. It works! the idea is that they get instant feedback & recognition of getting the Chip or 'reward' and yet; rather than some useless little thing like a sticker or dorky McDonalds junk toy - they can 'save up' the rewards for something worthwhile, and learn to build on their sucesses. it helps them in goal setting, and helps them in that they can only GAIN points - not lose them. if they backslide or have a bad day, their goal doesn't get further out of reach, discouraging them - they only have to KEEP TRYING.


many boys with a higher maturity level will think it's a dumb idea - it sounds like it, I know. but it DOES work. you can use it for all kinds of things, for specific outings, or for meetings - like for uniform inspections. the key is to pick a reachable goal, and give rewards that have meaning to the boys in question.




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One of the asm's in my troop took a "negative reinforcement approach" to teamwork and it didnt stick and he just made everyone angry. he would watch how things were going and everytime he saw someone not working as a team he would issue what he called a strike. 3 strikes equalled 1 out, witch meant that the troop was "grounded" for 15 min during free time when activites were open throughout camp. He then would police the site and count each piece of garbage he found as a strike. At one piont he was actually digging in the dirt under the table for crumbs. He annoyed me and several other troop members. Any ideas that would actually work?

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Ryon, please read the thread in 'Working with Boys' about the 4 sStyles of Leadership. I am curious as to which style you see the adult leaders in the troop use the most often, and which you see yourself and the other junior leaders using?


Bob White

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Hi Ryon.

What a great name, I have a friend in Ireland with the same name only a different spelling.

Bob White, makes a good point - Do take a look at the styles of leadership thread.

You and the leaders in your troop might want to spend some time discussing what Scout spirit really is.

To my way of thinking it has a lot to do with the Law and Scout Oath.

We need to give everyone the opportunity to do their best. This does mean that at times we have to take chances, not everything will be fine and dandy all the time. Still even the things that will not go exactly as planned will be a learning experiance.

One real good way of building Scout spirit is to use Reflections.

These do need to be set up right or they won't work.

You need to get everyone sitting down or maybe in a circle, so that they can see each other.

Set these rules.

No one can interrupt.

Only one person can speak at a time.

There can be No "Put Downs."

Anyone who doesn't care to say anything doesn't have to.

There are no right or wrong answers.

There can be no put downs.

Have someone in charge to lead the reflection.

Have him ask a leading question.

Such as "Did you enjoy that whatever ?"

(This in charge person has a tough job, as he is not allowed to express his own opinion)

Allow everyone a chance to answer.

There will be follow up questions, such as "How could we make it better" Or a real good one is "How did you feel when..."

Don't let it go on too long - Ten minutes is maybe a little too long.

Thank everyone for taking part.

This really works well with a patrol or a small troop.

You can really get a feel to not only how well the whatever went, but more important you get to know how the others felt.(This message has been edited by Eamonn)

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We use "Thorns & Roses" for reflection at the end of our campfire on Saturday nights. Everybody takes a few seconds to tell their worst and best experience on the campout. After doing this for a while, it's really rewarding to see how the kids are looking at things differently. For example, they might (rightfully) say the rain shower in the late afternoon was a thorn, but the way they figured out how to cook dinner anyway was a rose.

Leaders are always on the lookout for teamwork to praise as a legitimate rose. Getting to a campsite late due to car trouble might be the thorn, but the teamwork led by the older boys in getting camp set up in record time -- including helping several first-time campers with tents fresh out of the box -- were a rose that got special praise. (Adults weren't the first to bring this up -- one of the new guys said it first.)


On campouts, we also always have a few special trinkets for a quick awards ceremony on Sunday morning as we close down camp. Trinkets include things like small flashlights, knives, hats, candy, etc. (Most from Dollar Store.) We recognize things like Honor Camper, Scout Spirit, Teamwork, etc.


I've been involved with a lot of different troops through the years. This one has the best overall attitude I've ever seen. Boys respond positively to positive praise.

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"Boys respond positively to positive praise." And vice-versa. This is soooooooooo true.


Hi Ryon,


Recognizing that you need more positive team interaction is the first step to making it happen.


There are many good suggestions here so far. Many of the team building games that you can play either as your Pre Opening, or the Patrol Competition portion of your Troop Meetings, can be found in the Troop Program Resources book. They call them Initiative Games.


Reflection is also a TREMENDOUS tool in finding out what the boys really like and want to do, and how to improve on what you're doing.


Laura also has a great idea about the, "immediate recognition" of her system. I plan to try it on our next campout. The way that she is helping her son to find life long ways of coping with his ADD/ADHD should be an inspiration to us all.



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We do a thorns and roses reflection at the last night's campfire too, but a little differently.


I recommend you keep awy from negative phrases and have each person who speaks tlk only about themselves. we go around the circle three times each person has the chance to talk uninterrupted and without comments fromthe group.


The first time around the circle we invite any scout that wants to talk, to tell us "what was the best thing you did this weekend?". The second time around we ask "what you do think you could have done better", The third time around we ask "What will you do differntly next time".


I think this is a better way to reflect because it requires the scout to say "I like when I..." I could improve at...." "next time I will ...".


So instead of hearing that they didn't like the rain (an event they have no control over), you get to the root of the problem, "I could have had a plan-B in case it rained", or "I could have prepared better in case it rained". Both are things the scout could have controlled. "Next time I will remember to use the packing list in my handbook" "next time I will pay closer attention to the weather forcast". That is how learning and growth take place.


The scouts learn alot more and take far less offense at evaluating themselves than by being evaluated or critiqued by others.


(side note) as adults our vocabulary that we use with the scouts is important. Always evaluate never critique. When you say evaluate the scout hears the word value, he expects to hear something of worth. when he hears ctique he hears critic. he expects to be told what is wrong with him personally and he immediately throws up mental barricades. Better still never evaluate people only events. With people, as Mke recommends, always reflect. Ask questions that allow the scout to evaluate himself.


Bob White

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