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

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"Safety Afloat" and CPR are requirements of Canoeing Merit Badge, which is one of the prerequisites for our canoe trips.


"Swift Water Training" is probably the name of some local Council's training course.


EagleInKY writes:


Actually, the user of a guide/outfitter is a great way of not only ensuring a safe trip, but also teaching/reinforcing the safety afloat guidelines.


Yes, our guides structure the beginners' trip so that it only requires three hours of continuous paddling to get to the first night's camping spot. That way if it takes twice as long as planned, we can still set up camp before nightfall.


Once camp is set up, the guides are at our disposal to teach any skills in which they are certified. Since the canoes are empty then, this usually means white water techniques, but it can be land-based instruction instead. For instance a quartermaster course on stocking a canoe trip. One year we asked for a liquid fuels course for the Scouts with certification for the adults (in our Council, at least one adult leader must have attended a liquid fuels certification course for the Troop to use white gas, etc. on a campout).


So what I'm getting at is if the Guide to Safe Scouting stands in the way of OneHour's Scouts organizing their own canoe trip, then on the river is the best place for such book learning, where Scouts can hold the G2SS or other safety checklists in one hand, and touch the real-life example with the other.


Hands-on outdoor instruction has been the guiding principle of Scouting since the very beginning. See the cartoon illustrations from the 2nd Edition of the Handbook for Scoutmasters at:




Kudu(This message has been edited by Kudu)

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Thank you for the inputs thus far, but let's get back to my original requests of ... what has your troop done that worked for the older scouts. My request was not meant to incite a debate on the validity of G2SS or whether or not Safe Swim Defense or Safety Afloat is needed. The adults in our troops are very well versed in all of the training and guidelines to keep our boys safe. As for initiation, it's something that we don't condone in our troop any more. The fire jump stunt was put to rest right after my son and I joined the troop.


Kudu presents some alternatives. So have others. It's still an opinion and what worked for his troop before.


G2SS is not an obtacle. We use it as a training tool to teach our scouts how to plan a safe outing.


Please remember one thing, our troop adult leaders are not spring chickens. 8 out of 9 scoutmasters are trained with most of the bsics training that BSA has, including all safety courses. Granted that the previous set of leaders may not follow G2SS or any other safety measures. Most of these fathers have since been replaced or moved on. We just want to see how other troops deal with the same problem. This is not new. This is an old problem that has no exact answer or formula. My request is for a brainstorm session. In a brainstorm session, there shouldn't be any criticisms or remarks on the suggestions.


Now ... may we get back to the requested examples and suggestions? Many thanks in advance,



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It seems that you are on the right track with doing high adventure trips for the older scouts. But, without adult leaders to run these its not going to happen.


It seems that the question you are really asking is:

How can we run a high adventure program when we have adult leaders who cannot or will not do high adventure activities?


The obvious answer is to recruit adults who like to and can do these types of activities.


As mentioned in other posts and threads contact any local clubs that do the activity you want to do and see if any of the members are willing to help run a trip.


Do high adventure trips that an outfitter can run the trips and have your leaders meet the guides at the end. We went on a one-day white-water rafting trip at a place that had registered Scout leaders as some of their guides. They knew the scout program and were trained in G2SS and youth protection and with pre-arrangements I think would have taken the scouts out.


Where else to find leaders? Call up MB councilors in your area and see if they can help with a trip. If you have adults physically unable to do high adventure perhaps, they can come in and help run a trip


See if there is another Troop you could team up with to do high adventure. You may be able to find a Troop with all younger scouts with leaders just chomping at the bit to do this stuff and cant because their scouts are not old enough yet.


Attend roundtable, explain your situation and ask for help. Scouters there usually have answers and can help with just about any situation.


Does your council run high adventure trips? Our council runs trips to Philmont, Seabase and Jamborees that do not require Troop leaders to go. Most of these trips have enough adult leaders already in place.


Find a summer camp that offers high adventure trips on a provisional option. This is where scouts can attend without a leader.


I'm sure there are more ways to do these types of trips and I hope this helps


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One Hour, (sorry another long, wordy post...the rest of you can skip it if you like)


Ok what have you "learned" so far... (besides that we can really fly off on tangents)?


If I read it right, you have a small group of real "older" scouts...maybe hanging on (or hanging around occaisionally) and a group of soon to be aging /higher ranked scouts 13-14 yrs old(Star/Life?)... and you wish to prepare in order to keep most of the up and coming scouts active and engaged.


To do this you need to follow (eventually) two tracks. The first track is to incorporate tougher/more interesting(?) activities into your current campout schedule...without knowing what possiblities are on your schedule (do any of the camping opportunities have cope courses available, water for canoeing? etc.) it would be hard to offer direct suggestions. Keeping in mind that what is cool and interesting to 11 year old is a "been there done that" for a fourteen year old... You might have the older boys build large pioneering projects at a camp so the younger boys can "ooh and ahh"...towers and bridges come to mind. Then there are Night hikes - fun and can be done in most places.

Camping near any "wild" caves (not public caverns but crawl on your belly type holes? If you have access to a "grotto" ( a cave club) or a local spelunker, a camp nearby could be a base where the younger boys work on skills while the 14 years olds get down and dirty!


A low 'drag' event is a family setting camping trip (close to home, where families can visit and even camp if they like). Here, the older scouts spend the day demonstrating cooking techniques (including meal planning and kitchen hygiene) to the younger scouts and the parents...our older guys loved it! (The troop funded the food bill) And the Parents were fed some awesome meals. It finished up with a huge camp bonfire where the older scouts did almost a hour and a half of skits, songs and ghost stories...the parents of younger scouts were blown away and the older scouts were very excited about the job they did.




Then you can build the "second track"- a separate "out-side the regular progam" - program.

First, as was demonstrated by your last years High Adventure trip to Double H ...even if it is "given to them on a silver platter" it does not necessarily work...


The boys really need to "own" the trips ...to be interested in the schedule...To do this they have to want to do something and do the work necessary to get there. This takes a butt-load of work by the adults...'cause the adults have to sell the program and motivate the boys. I might suggest here that you check with council and see if they have a BSA high adventure program spokesman.


Several years ago we made contact with the gent in our council who visited troops around the council "selling" the High Adventure Camps like Seabase, Philmont, and the Northern Tier treks. He came to a troop meeting with an energetic discussion, a short slide show, handouts, and photos of our council's scouts having a blast at the different H.A.camps.


That seemed to perk up a few scouts when they saw that the adults were willing to help plan and make a commitment -several years out, towards a super trip. We sent a small contingent to Philmont, then a small crew to Sea Base then a larger crew, then two crews...on and on! Believe me, boys coming back with pictures and "war" stories help to energize other scouts to "jump in".


This brings to mind something we do after every event...campout, camporee, service project or activities. At our first meeting after any activity the SPL (sometime during his program...usually just after opening) asks some of the participants to tell the troop (the boys who did not participate)what went on. He usually selects a younger scout (participant)first and after that scout is finished, the SPL asks an older, more verbose scout to tell the guys what they missed (more selling the program). With digital cameras we can now even do a quick slide show on the TV in the meeting hall during the discussion. It seems to help keep participation up.


I woulds suggest that your new HIgh Adventure ASM (you have one now, right?) draw in the new older scouts (13-14 yr olds) for a special meeting. It might be during a regular meeting but I would suggest it be done out-side the normal schedule.

At this meeting the SPL, SM and the new H.A.-ASM should explain what they want to do, and a thumbnail of what the goals are for a more challenging program. You might want to open it up for a brain storming session. What might interest them... what they would like to try.


At first do not discourage any suggestions...(the kid who throws out a trip to Hawaii for surfing should be allowed his "fun" and just add it to the list the SPL is "making" (he will have a pad of paper, right?)With 10-13 boys there will be some ideas... and don't be afraid to toss out a few...in fact be prepared to "salt the mine" by planting suggestions with the ASM the SPL and even encourage a few of the scouts before the meeting to toss in some of their favorite "cool" outdoor activities.


Make a list of interesting activities and then let the boys start molding it to suit them...("Hawaii, great idea..let's see... air line tickets $1,200 each hotel, cars..that should be about fifteen fund raisers... it can be done...if you do the work...or maybe we could look at Joe's idea of learning to scuba dive? couldn't we?" quotes the ASM)


Maybe add only two H.A. activities to your schedule this year and maybe more next year...You might even find that your group of 12-13 soon to be older scouts self-divide into a group that wants to go caving and a group that wants to rock climb (much the same activity just in a different "place"). Next the first group wants to learn to operate a sailboat (skiff or day sailer) while the second group wants to learn white water canoe skills...


This is fine...let the boys signing on board for the different activity "own" the planning. That does not mean they are left to themselves to screw it up...it means they sit down with adults and are taken through the motions of successful planning and implementation. We can not expect boys to know what to do simply buy telling them to do it...let them see you doing it...walk them through it...ask them questions and patiently answer their questions...


Keeping in mind, if you just do it for them they will never learn...and if you don't show them how to plan they will never learn either.

As a start and a game...have the ASM pick an activity...you can even pick one you will never do (a hike on the moon, for instance), sit down with several (all?) scouts and start the plan; What is needed? How do we get there? How much Food? What equipment? Who needs to be called? What special training do we need? (Is Mr. Smith certified in BSA Safe Space Flight Defense?) How much will it cost? How do we raise the money?


I know it sounds wierd, but it does start them thinking...and at the beginning you (adults) will probably need to "pull" the information out of them with a host of questions...like a lawyer leading a witness ...it is tough work but it will get the juices flowing and you will find interest increasing. Heck, you might even start with one patrol of "older scouts" (remember, it's the patrol method not the troop method) and do a patrol-only High Adventure. The smaller group makes things easier. Take six or eight boys on a cool adventure and report back how much fun was had...


Finally the real "older" scouts...if any are left...you know the guys who hang together in the corner...not participating...invite them to join in...when they see that something new is happening they just might want to tag along...it is worth the effort.


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Internet Scouting conversations are often reminiscent of the proverbial three blind men who encounter an elephant. One man feels the elephant's trunk and says, "An elephant is like a snake!" The second man holds the elephant's tail and says, "An elephant is like a rope!" The third puts his arms around the elephant's leg and says, "An elephant is like a tree!"


In a similar way,


anarchist writes:

If I read it right, you have a small group of real "older" scouts...maybe hanging on (or hanging around occasionally) and a group of soon to be aging /higher ranked scouts 13-14 yrs old(Star/Life?)... and you wish to prepare in order to keep most of the up and coming scouts active and engaged.


CNYScouter writes:

In the same way It seems that the question you are really asking is:

How can we run a high adventure program when we have adult leaders who cannot or will not do high adventure activities?


And I see you saying that your adult leaders are just fine, thank you very much, but when the Scouts suggest:


- Tubing (also without PFDs)

- White water rafting (untrained nor planned)

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


Your adult leaders "advise them that either they find ways to satisfy G2SS or they should consider another event."


So, my "blind man" impression of your situation is that you are looking for "other events" simply because the Scouts can't satisfy the adults' G2SS objections to the PLC's planning of the activities in which the Scouts have already expressed an interest.


So could you be more specific about what kind of ideas you are looking for? Are you looking for a list of "what to do" events, or a discussion of "how to implement it" programing?


If it is the former, have you tried Troop Brainstorming?





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Okay ... my apologies. Let's forget about history. Here is an inventory of what our troop has done:

* PLC does the planning - check

* solicit adult volunteers 4 ASMs and 2 parents to run and see that high adv is successful - check

* brainstorming session - check (will have to do it for the high adv group)

* support of committee - check

* adult leaders not using G2SS to prevent outings - check


* older scouts' involvement - to be determined (will have a sit down talk with them and the ASMs involved to determine path forward for the patrol/crew)

* up and coming older scouts involvement - check (and they are yearning for the opportunities)


* how to involve or integrate high adv patrol/crew into regular troop meeting - need advice

* examples of what high adv events that were done by other troop especially in conjunction with troop campouts - need advice

* adult leaders training:

flat water canoeing - check

trek safely - check

cpr - check

first aids - check

climb on safely - check

safety afloat - check

safe swim defense - check

risk mitigation - check


topping out - needed

whitewater training - needed



Scouts training:

flat water canoeing - check 90%

cpr - check

first aids - check

safety afloat - check

safe swim defense - check

swimmer status -check 95%


topping out - needed

whitewater training - needed


Let's look forward (as I told the adults in our troop) to creating a lasting high adv program that will keep older boys interested in scouting instead of dropping out or eagle-out.


Anarchist, we have selected four ASMs to lead the high adv efforts. They are fathers of 4 up and coming 14 years old. They are very active in our troop. They will be sitting down with our older scouts to plan as you have indicated. Let me take back what I said and pretend that our adults don't know anything. Let's assume that they are trained with Scoutmaster Specifics and Outdoor Leader Skills Training (OLST); in addition, they have the above training. They also are very level headed and are 110% supporting boy-lead philosophy. Let's go from there. There are great suggestions so far, including Kudu's suggestion of using outfitters, not to circumvent G2SS but to provide them as an alternative. It will provide them with an opportunity to interact with an outfitter in the case where we may do Boundary Water later on.


Many thanks again for your suggestions and inputs.





(This message has been edited by OneHour)

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Here's the process we used to get our Hi-Adventure Program rolling after it died a few years ago. Your mileage may vary.


2002 - I started talking up trip to our older guys about high adventure activities. There was mass confusion and much apathy. In spite of this, we persisted, managed to get 3 Philmont slots for 2004 and got started talking about Boundary Waters for 2003. BSA/Sommers was full during times we could make 2003, so we went with North Country Canoe Outfitters (http://www.boundarywaters.com). After making presentations to troop, we had enough interest for 2 crews.


2003 - We met every few weeks during the hour before troop meetings for preparation. Scheduled training/shakedown activities to deconflict with troop activities. Mostly day outtings, but we did weekend on Village Creek, north of Houston. (SHAC considers it to be "flat water" so your flatwater certification will suffice.) After Crew Leaders were selected by each crew, we included them in the mostly adult-led planning. Yes - scouts could have/should have done more of the heavy lifting, but we were just trying to get the ball rolling. Had an outstanding trip to Minn/Canada and the guys were fired up to do more.


2004 - Lots of activities getting 3 crews ready for Philmont. Adults still did a lot of the planning, but Crew Leaders and other interested scouts were more involved than before. Adults were lined up on a waiting list for this one. We made it clear we wanted a committment for participants to be willing to support future troop high-adventure activities. Had a great time and even more guys were fired up to do more.


2005 - The scouts were getting the hang of it. We led some brainstorming sessions to toss around ideas and they decided they wanted to tackle some of Colorado's high country - the Weinemuche Wilderness SE of Silverton. The scouts (finally!) did a lot of the planning and pulled off an excellent backpacking trip.


2006 - Some of the older scouts who have, or will be graduated from High School by next summer, are talking about doing their own trip back to Colorado without us older adults. This is what I consider to be the ultimate success.


My short recommendation:

Find some adults with an interest (canoeing, backpacking, caving, etc.) and get the ball rolling. Follow the BSA guidelines. Build interest in your older guys and get them as involved as possible, but press forward in any way necessary. After each activity, with renewed interest and confidence, challenge the guys to set their sites on the next goal.


One more repeat recommendation:

Keep your eyes open for a younger adult who is interested in returning to help out with scouts. We recruited a young man (with sons age 2 & 4) who is an Eagle and member of our Charter Org church. He can't make enough time for weekly meetings and monthly campouts, but has been a huge help with high-adventure activities. He loves it and the guys really enjoy working with him.


(BTW - I'll be at Fall OA Pow Wow - Hope to see you there!)



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