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OneHour

Need Ideas, Past Lessons, Current Process ... for Older Scouts Program

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I need your ideas, lessons learned, processes, or what you have that work to incorporate and revitalize older scouts in the troop. Our older scouts are not interested in "regular troop" program. High Adventure attempts fizzled out last year after a trip to Double H, namely because there was no adult sponsor. Now, we have a group of 13-14 boys who are reaching the 14 years old and wanting to do more.

 

How does your troop incorporate high ad elements into campouts, outings, troop meetings, etc, ... while allowing them to be part of the troop? Lesson learned, troop annual plans, troop meeting plan, etc..

 

By the way, BSA literatures only mention about them ... not what was implemented or how to implement it.

 

Many thanks,

 

1Hour

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Some things I have seen, plan high adventure trips, special campouts, merit badge work(some people are critical of this), teaching younger scouts, in general running the troop.

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Here are some ideas to help them get started:

 

http://www.inquiry.net/outdoor/activities/older_scouts.htm

 

It goes without saying that the Scouts must plan these activities themselves, or they will never buy into them. For additional ideas, try Troop Brainstorming--or a modified version for just the older Scouts:

 

http://www.inquiry.net/patrol/brainstorming.htm

 

Venture Patrol and Venturing handbooks are another source of ideas and how-to techniques.

 

High Adventure attempts fizzled out last year after a trip to Double H, namely because there was no adult sponsor.

 

It sounds like you are having problems finding adults for your high adventure activities, is that true? If so, your Scouts might do a brainstorming session around that. They may know people who have specialized high-adventure skills.

 

I think you will find that many adults are very interested in high adventure campouts IF you present them as one-time, individual activities. You may not be aware of the interests of parents in your Troop because (like your older Scouts) they are not interested in car-camping. Try locating young adults who were once Scouts in your Troop, as well as parents whose kids may have aged-out. Try posting a notice at your Council HQ and making announcements at Roundtables. Local Venturing Crews are an obvious resource. Local outdoor stores such as EMS (Easter Mountain Sports) may offer outdoor weekend "clinics" at cost.

 

Be sure to review the relevant YP and other Guide to Safe Scouting rules.

 

How does your troop incorporate high ad elements into campouts, outings, troop meetings, etc, ... while allowing them to be part of the troop?

 

We sometimes run a two-tiered campout where the younger Scouts camp at "home base" and the older Scouts go backpacking. Many successful Troops run "older-Scouts only" campouts in return for the older Scouts providing leadership at Troop meetings and car-campouts.

 

The BSA model for regular Troop meetings suggests a three-tier model in which older Scouts split off to plan their own activities.

 

Kudu

 

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It's interesting that you are having problems getting adult commitment for the high adventure program. My experience has been the other way around. I have challenges finding adults who will work with the younger scouts, but have an endless supply of adults who will do the high adventure.

 

Like Kudu mentioned, we'll do the two-tiered campout. For example, next weekend we're going camping as a troop, but most of the older guys (in our troop, that's 2nd-4th year scouts) are going on a overnight backpacking trip. A couple are hanging back with the first years as they do their 5 miler for 2nd class.

 

We also just did a fun white water rafting trip. Again, it was for the "older" guys. We did this both as a way of motivating/rewarding them, as well as just a general safety issue. We weren't ready to put our first year guys into that type of situation. I believe the older guys appreciate it, and will likely stick around longer because of it.

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Here is the situation. Currently, we have about 12 "older scouts" who came from the time when our troop was 95% adult-run, which allows them to do things that would go against G2SS guidelines. These boys complained that the new scoutmasters do not allow them to have fun any more. On the contrary, the PLC decides the events we ask various G2SS guideline questions. They elected not to do some of the events. The problem is that these guys don't show up to plan and if they do, they don't show up for the events ... and of course at BOR ... they complain.

 

When they do show up at troop meetings, they set bad examples in terms of uniform, in terms of respect for younger SPL, in terms of keeping to the planned agenda. They simply gather in a small group and do as they wish. The SPL tries to get them involve and so do we. Again, they complain that they don't get to do anything fun, but they can't tell exact what is it that they want, except for ... it's not the same as it used to be.

 

Last year, several of the leaders got together to put on a high adventure program for them. Their aim was to do Philmont or Double H. Well, they got in Double H. They planned. They practiced and they went. After that you don't see them any more only recently, when several of them showed back up to finish their eagles projects. Yes they did complete all of their requirements (with possibly the Scout Spirit ... but that's another debate for another time). One of them suggested that the older scouts should get together to go camping as they used to do. By the way jr56, they don't want to teach younger scouts (one exact statement is ... all that our troop does is to concentrate on the younger boys. We don't want to teach them all the time). They all don't. We only ask the troop guides and the intructors to assist when the troop meeting calls for a trail to first class skill. Running the troop? They are not interested in that either ... they don't want to attend JLT or give it a try. All that they want to do is to go camping and they can't even attend those.

 

One thing leads to another, we found ourselves trying to understand how to put together High Adv program to keep them interested. But, foremost, we have about 15 boys who are about to reach the magic 14 years old plateau.

 

My question is how do we, as a troop and of course the usual ... boy plan, lead, and execute ... a program that will integrate high adv into the regular troop program. I'm looking examples.

 

For example, one troop told me that they would have a hike and the younger scouts and two adult leaders would stop at 5 miles mark or longer; however, the older boys would carry their backpack loaded and do 10+ miles.

 

One troop has canoe training for the younger boys and the older boys would contribute first and then continue on with their pack and paddle further down the river.

 

etc ...

 

I'm looking for ideas that I could give to the boys as they plan. I'm looking for examples of troop meeting that has regular tfc and high adv. I'm looking for ways to involve older scouts yet allowing them to serve as troop guides or instructors.

 

We will have about 3-4 adult leaders lined up to assist with the high adventure programs.

 

Thanks,

 

1Hour(This message has been edited by OneHour)

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Currently, we have about 12 "older scouts" who came from the time when our troop was 95% adult-run, which allows them to do things that would go against G2SS guidelines. These boys complained that the new scoutmasters do not allow them to have fun any more.

 

Would you list the activities that they considered to be fun, even though they don't comply with G2SS guidelines?

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That's the problem. They can't tell me. Here are some that we didn't band them, but advise them that either they find ways to satisfy G2SS or they should consider another event:

- Laser Zone

- Tubing (also without PFDs)

- White water rafting (untrained nor planned)

- Canoeing on moving water (w/o prior training or planning)

- Jump over open campfire (apparent it was done before my time with the troop to 'initiate' new scouts)

 

These are just the ones that I assumed. Pressing the question to one of them. All that he could come up with is tubing! There are games that we recommend that they should not play often and should make different rules or have some concerns for younger scouts: dodgeball and British Bulldog.

 

The problem stems from the fact that these boys were spoon-fed and did not know how to plan. They just show up and go. They also resented that 20+ Webelos came in three years ago and ruined their troop!

 

I'm more concern with my son and his group of new "older scouts." They started to show interests in High Adv outings. They are better than the previous group. They have begun to learn how to plan and run the troop.

 

1Hour(This message has been edited by OneHour)

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Here I go again climbing on the old milk crate.

Sad to say I don't see 14 year olds as "Older Scouts".

I have found that most times when Lads hang back and don't do things it is because they don't know how.

This not knowing can take all sorts of shapes.

Sometime back I watched a group of Scouts at a District Camporee where the theme was Pioneering, they just get into it and very soon became bored and started finding things to do. Most of which were not things that might be expected from Boy Scouts. The reason they hung back was that they just didn't know how to tie the knots.

The same can be said of planning, most Lads need to be shown how to plan. This is the job of the Scoutmaster.

Of course the SM being a wise and clever fellow knows that he or she will use many of the skills that he got from Wood Badge to help him. He knows that when the plan comes up there will be great joy, enthusiasm's will run rampant.

He also knows that this will be followed by disagreements, and then if the group (PLC ??)Can get past this there will be a period when things come around followed by more great joy. He or she knows that different styles of leadership are needed to help move the group through these stages.

Because he or she is such a clever leader he is aware that most times it isn't what you are selling it is in how you sell it!!

PLC's have to be fun.

If you have done the ground work they really can be. Having a good well balanced Annual Plan with themes is a great start. Going into the meeting with a well planned Agenda that the SPL along with the help and support of the SM have both worked on is a must.

Looking at new twists on the same old same old is the mark of a great SM, selling it to the PLC and watching it work is the mark of a wonderful leader.

Tying knots in the church hall with frayed ropes is very boring. Patrols making rope ladders and having races adds a little bit more excitement, practicing at the PLC makes it work.

Don't try and reinvent the wheel. Look for ways of making it better.

Sure some things will fail and we use the failure as a learning experience. (Take a look at the videos in the Scoutmaster Specific course)

Most 14 year olds that I have met are really keen and really want to go out of their way to please others. They want you to be pleased!! They need to hear it from you!!

You need and the SM really listen to what they are saying.

The adults need to be very aware that they need to follow the Scout Oath and Law. If we promise something we have to be able to deliver it. It comes under trustworthy.

Good Luck.

Eamonn.

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I agree with Eamonn, and I will add another dimension to what he said.

 

Do you see the scouts as ready to go the next step in the program level because they have reached a certain age, or because they have obtained the knowledge and skills needed to take the next step?

 

their disinterest of the current program level doesn't really tell us if they know the information and have the skills or not.

 

The answer to that question will determine the advice for the next step.

 

 

 

 

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Eamonn, you are correct 14 is not an older scout; however, in their eyes, they are. Most of High Adventure programs required that the minimum age be 14. So that's where they set their rites of passage (sort of say). That's not what I'm after.

 

I'm looking for examples of how other troops older scouts involved in the troop. I and my fellow scouters understand completely the philosophy and the process that we need to take the boys through ... so the milk crate is not really needed. Although, it is appreciated. As you put it the best,"Don't try and reinvent the wheel. Look for ways of making it better."

 

I'm looking for those ways to make it better. I need examples to show them.

 

Okay ... "how to sell them" ... How?

 

"PLCs have to be fun." I'm reading ... please advise.

 

... being an engineer ... I never want to reinvent the wheel. I always look for the shortest path between two points. So, please let me have the best practices, go-bys, lessons-learned, whatever you can share. I just don't want to be sent back to the books and being told read between the lines ... it's in there or go take more philosophical classes. We have tried it and it's not working ... that's is why I ask.

 

I could keep my mouth shut and allow the troop to go as normal and stand a great chance of losing scouts. That's a problem with milk crate, it's great for newbies or those who don't subscribe to what has been prescribed, but it doesn't help with folks who merely look for advice.

 

Many thanks in advance,

 

1Hour

 

ps: Eamonn, I do appreciate and respect yours and certain milk create standup's BSA knowledge and experience.

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Bob,

 

"Do you see the scouts as ready to go the next step in the program level because they have reached a certain age, or because they have obtained the knowledge and skills needed to take the next step?"

 

The answer yes to both. There are boys who are ready to go the next step in the program level because they feel that they have reached a certain age. For example, 14 of the 13 years old could not go to Seabase this past summer because they were shy by one year. One stated, "I wish that I could be 14." This is great ... they are looking forward to it; however, they started to stop attending some of the troop campouts eventhough they were the ones who planned them (with assorted twist to them).

 

Have they attained the knowledge and skills to go to the next level? You bet ya. They got canoeing training and mb. They got horsemanship. They various training that prepare themselves to go to that next level. Then why haven't we incorporated into the program? They didn't want to! This annual planning came out with most car-camping. The scoutmasters interjected exciting events such as pack and paddle, calvacade, backpacking, etc., but they planned otherwise, namely State Park campouts and we (adults) have to respect that. Even thinking about the possibities got me excited about high adv.

 

 

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Then it would seem the skill they have not learned yet is leadership.

 

It needs to start with training the SPL on how to guide a meeting to the desired goal. The adults understand why these higher adventures offer more but the junior leadership doesn't, nor are they sufficiently motivated to encourage others to move beyond their comfort zone.

 

And there is the next problem. If the scouts have been raised on car camping do not expect them to be comfortable to suddenly change from no adventure to high adventure. You do not keep a baby crawling and then suddenly decide its time for him to stand and run.

 

Car camping was created by lazy leaders not healthy boys. At the very least drop scouts off a mile or so from camp. Give them a map and have them hike in. Have them hike out as well. Start this from their first caqmpout and don't stop. Younger scouts can carry personal gear minus sleeping bags, older scouts carry the personal gear and tents. After they get use to walking everywhere then offer them a chance to bike, or canoe, or horeback ride to camp and see how fast they grab on to the idea.

 

 

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One Hour, (please forgive the long post)

 

In last 12 months our troop produced 6 eagles. 5 of these young men were 17.999yrs old as they "eagled out". One of the young Men (number 6) is just 17 and is now our SPL the others are off to college, though three of them are registered ASMs and when school allows them to help, they do.

 

What kept them in scouting, our "RGG" (really good guy)disguised as a mild mannered SM, during their Eagle SM conferrence, asked all; What kept them in scouting...answers- (all the same by-the-way, though in somewhat different order) 1. "to see and hang with my friends" (not the younger scouts by-the-by - their older friends); 2."A challenging older scout program"; 3. "committed, active and supportive parents".

 

Think for a minute...six boys at different private meetings came up with the same three reasons.

 

4 of these boys were all from the patrol...We use the NSP system and "try like heck" to keep the patrols together throughout their scouting career. They might change names, but they rarely change patrols. This gives them a support system of long time buddies and allows for friendly, peer pressure to encourage success. The old "I/We did it...and so can you", is really a good movivator for most boys.

 

Our program is extremely heavy...most months we have two activities/events and only one is necessarily a "whole troop" activity. We send 75-80% of our guys to summer camp and at least one sometimes two crews to one of the high adventure programs...Seabase is the current troop favorite destination. The troop participates in most district events (camporees)...particularly if there are scout-skill contests involved...these guys love to compete and they do it well.

 

In August of each year, the PLC "sets" the new annual program calendr after handing out an annual program evaluation survey on the return trip from summer camp. They statistically compile the results and do a rating of the past year's events and add to it a section compiling "new" wish list ideas from the scouts...(Giving the survey out right after Summer camp allows our first year summer campers to draw on their summercamp experiences in making suggestions to the PLC of what they would like to do or try.)

 

For the older boys, we have caving, rock climbing, a 100 mile canoe trek, 10 and 20 mile hikes, 50 mile bike hikes and of course the High adventure summer trek for them to try as well as a klondike derby, beach camp, couple of weekend canoe events and service projects...(real physical work by the way) and white water rafting in the regular program to also interest them.

 

And remember even "regular old campouts" should have a "program attached". They should not be just "hanging in the woods",(although thats nice too, on occaision). Too often, I hear of Scouts who quit because they were 'tired' of the "same old, same old" at campouts. When you asked what they did as a troop on campouts...it was -set camp, sleep, fix food, watch a fire, fix more food, sleep, break camp...but little or no 'cool stuff' (PROGRAM) going on! No wonder they get tired of scouting!

 

Our ASMs, committee members and the SM all stay on them (older boys) like "flies" to keep them engaged...remember "Newton's First Law"... (a body at rest tends to stay at rest). We found a long time ago that you have to keep challenging these boys or they will simply "settle in" (inertia) and nix everything that's thrown at them...They teach their share of scout skills, but no more...lots of first class and stars can take some of that duty (and do so gladly with preparation and assistance from the PLC.)Some times they spend troop meeting time working on gear in the church parking lot(inventory, repairs, maintenance) and getting "paid" with soda and pizza (giving the younger boys subtle encouragement for what lies ahead).

 

The "tougher stuff" actually gives the younger boys something else to look forward towards, as they gain skills and experience.

And many, many new scout dads (and moms) are disappointed that they (and their sons) have to wait for a few years to participate,

 

There are High adventure program/trek guides in the BSA literature that are great, the BSA field book is also a wonderful resource Merit badge subjects can be converted into adventures, and web surfing to see what other troops and venture crews are doing is a great way to "waste time" rather than mowing the lawn, taking out the trash or painting the kitchen!

 

 

But it does take work...a top notch ASM (specifically for the older boys)and a great SM to train the PLC and "light fires" when needed. AND YOU NEED TO HAVE ACTIVE PARENTS FOR YOUR OLDER SCOUTS!

 

IF they are not 'engaged' in your troop; call them in for a meeting and let them know the "score"...They need to support the program...even if it is just showing their sons that the family supports scouting and their scouts efforts...That the skills and experiences of scouting are valued by the family...Let them know, if they would be doing a "hand-stand" if "little Johnnie" scored a touchdown, a home run, a goal, a "pin" or a three pointer at the buzzer...then by gosh they ought to do a hand-stand when Johnnie makes tenderfoot, or builds his first fire, or makes Star, or earns a merit badge...or teaches a skill to another scout! That support is as important as helping with the troop work load ...(well ok, almost as important). Maybe they could see their way to doing both?

 

Boy led does not mean adults have to cater to inertia...Train the PLC, retrain your older scouts and remember: some times several good figurative kicks to the backsides are needed for scouts and adults (parents and scouters alike)

good luck and a good 'scouting year' to you!

anarchist

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That's the problem. They can't tell me.

 

A good Troop Brainstorming session with everyone yelling out wild ideas will solve this problem. Interesting activities will emerge if you make sure that no idea is discouraged at this point in the process (because of G2SS, for instance).

 

I will leave it to others to discuss leadership development, but leadership follows enthusiasm.

 

Laser Zone:

 

I'm with your Scouts on this one. This is a only a problem because the BSA has recently decided to use the G2SS to promote political correctness. For a collection of politically incorrect, red meat, fresh air alternatives to laser tag, see:

 

http://www.inquiry.net/outdoor/games/laser_alternatives.htm

 

Tubing (also without PFDs):

 

I'm with your Scouts on this one too. Some tubing streams in Texas are only two feet deep, and not all Texas outdoor youth organizations require PFDs in such very shallow water situations, see:

 

http://www.1sttarrantbpscouts.org/Activities.html

 

The G2SS does specifically require PFDs but if the idea of tubing is so popular, I'm sure that plenty of your new "old" Scouts will participate even if they have to wear PFDs. Use your adult resources to help them plan such trips for safety.

 

White water rafting (untrained nor planned):

 

If your PLC is really lazy, this could work to your advantage. It is a lot easier to plan a trip with a outdoor adventure company that provides the equipment as well as the trained leadership. Your local Council office probably has promotional literature from such outfits.

 

Canoeing on moving water (w/o prior training or planning)

 

Canoeing on moving water without prior training or planning is one of our Troop's most popular events, especially with parents! We hire a local Scouter-owned outfit that provides the canoes, equipment, food, registered guides, etc. for $60 per participant. It would be a lot cheaper to do it ourselves, but who wants to train or plan? :-) We do require Swimming and Canoe Merit Badges to participate. I personally consult the most popular new Scouts before their first-year summer camp and ask them to sign up for these two Merit Badges so that they can participate in the next canoe trip. Peer-pressure then makes it easier to get the rest of the new Scouts (those who can swim) to sign up too.

 

Jump over open campfire (apparent it was done before my time with the troop to 'initiate' new scouts)

 

The attraction of "secret" campfire rituals is universal. Try your own new Scout initiation ceremony based on traditional Scout campfire war dances and war songs performed with Scout Staves:

 

http://www.inquiry.net/outdoor/campfire/songs/war_songs.htm

 

These are just the ones that I assumed. Pressing the question to one of them. All that he could come up with is tubing!

 

Then make sure you yell "Tubing!!!!" early during the Troop Brainstorming session.

 

http://www.inquiry.net/patrol/brainstorming.htm

 

There are games that we recommend that they should not play often and should make different rules or have some concerns for younger scouts: dodge ball....

 

Our Scouts play dodge ball almost every week. One online UK Scout games book has about six variations. As Scoutmaster, I insist that the PLC reserves time so that some Scout game be played every meeting (to promote the Uniform and Patrol Methods). Teams must be based on whole Patrols, but the teams are not required to be equal or even fair! Often a single Patrol (sometimes one of the older Patrols or more often the Dragons--a group of 13yo class clowns) has to face the combined fire power of the entire Troop.

 

The point of all of this is that it sounds like you already have a few ideas of what the new older Scouts want. It seems to me that it is just a matter of problem-solving to make their ideas acceptable to the adults.

 

Make sure that the Guide to Safe Scouting is not just an excuse for the adults to reject activities with which they are not familiar or qualified to run themselves.

 

Kudu

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