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Nephew's troop is small and does not have a NSP. He is Tenderfoot working on 2nd class and is the lowest ranking scout in his Troop (Bridged last March). He has a few things left to do to finish up 2nd class, most of which could be finished at the upcoming camping trip, if he had someone to work with him to teach him the skills he needs (starting a fire, map & compass hike, mostly #1 & #2).


So, I suggested to him that he talk to his PL, telling him that he needed help with some of his requirements and could they help him. The answer he received? "We'll cross that bridge when we get to it".


So, before I say anything further to him, am I expecting too much from his Star PL? He is in a Patrol with 2 Stars and 1 First Class (soon to be Star). Regardless, where do I go from here? I can't help him with the skills he needs (I don't camp and couldn't start a fire if I was sitting on the sun). And if we have to find all of our own sources to teach him these skills I could save a bundle of money and simply take him out of scouting....which is not a solution anyway.


So...do I need to take a deep breath and shut up and find someone outside of the Troop to teach him the things he isn't learning? Or should I direct him to talk to someone further in his Troop (I was thinking SPL then SM if no better luck with SPL). I'm not content with scouting experience he has received so far in this Troop but right now he'd rather lose a limb than change Troops. Since its not my scouting experience, I have no right to force a change on him, so I'm trying to figure out how to make this a better experience for him.


Thank you for your patience and suggestions.




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He talked to the right person, his patrol leader. Part of a PL's responsibility is to help the patrol members with advancement. Next would be for the boy to talk to the senior patrol leader and tell him he would like some opportunities to work on advancement requirements on the next campout, and would he be able to help the PL to set up a training session.

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Right on to start with the youth leadership chain-of-command.

If he doesn't have luck after trying SPL, he might ask the SM for a SM Conference.

We normally think of those only for advancement, but it's also for a status check and if your son is getting frustrated, that's a way to have a good chat about advancement and his other experiences. Hopefully the SM will get the hint and give the youth leadership a nudge.


If your son is really motivated and you're willing to help, you might also take a good look at his Boy Scout handbook. It's not a great textbook, per se, but I'll bet you could both have a lot of fun trying to figure it out. Even firebuilding can be done safely at home - my youngest son's Cub Scout den were cooking over a fire built on some bare dirt in my backyard last Sunday. (Other options are some old concrete away from structures, inside of metal trash can lid, etc. Just be sure to have a garden hose hooked up and ready to go. And you might alert your neighbors so they don't call the fire department.) Firebuilding and map/compass aren't magic. You can learn most of it by reading the book and experimenting. Imagine the older boy's amazement when your son volunteers to build the fire at the next campout! (And then get signed off.)


Another good source of info is the Boy Scout Field Book.


Good luck and have fun!



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Talking a deep breath and a pause...(sounds better than "shut up", doesn't it?), may be a good idea. First, program-wise in many units, campouts have themes or purposes...Depending on the activity, the up coming Campout you mentioned might not necessarily be just to "knock off the advancement requirements of each scout"...For instance our next two campouts center around Service Projects (sorta weekend work details) for two different camps...and our own "inhouse" camporee training (we are running the District camporee this winter) and while there may a few momments here and there for some easier advancement activities (cooking, meal planning etc.), a map and compass hike would be a non starter for time constraints alone...


Your nephew has been a scout for seven months...And you need to understand that he appears to be very close to being "on track" for the BSA "goal" of (GAG!)"First Class - First Year"...and if he went to summercamp this past summer he most likely has some first class requirements completed as well (Swimming?)


Next, your Nephew (not you) needs to establish for himself (and you?)the troop's (SM's?) policy on "requirement sign-offs"...It can vary troop to troop.

(Example; for new Scouts our troop has gone to a limited list of approved "signers" and it does not include PL's. This was started to insure a "truer" feeling for accomplishment and skill "mastery"...For new Scouts the SPL, the ASPL, Troop Guides and Troop instructors, ASMs and the SM are approved to sign off on Tenderfoot and Second Class requirements. Star and Life scouts in addition to the above noted personnel can sign off with The SPLs approval for First Class and Star requirements. Life requirements must be signed by the SPL, ASPL or the ASMs or SM...I might add here that this "policy" was a PLC determination (reaction?)after a rash of "problems" presented themselves with scouts who just couldn't "remember" basic skills but asked for SM conferences.)


Scouting Skills can be taught by any scout with the time and the temperment...your nephew should ask his PL or SPL to suggest a scout (mentor/guide)to help him with fire building ...then your Nephew can approach the SM or an ASM or the SPL (as necessary) to demonstrate proficiency for the "sign off".


I know this might bring down the boo birds on my head...but keep in mind there is a good bit of self education in scouting...if you look through the Scout Handbook...it is a self taught lesson plan, (page after page), and your Nephew can do a lot of learning before asking for or recieving the first "taught" class..And not to be "smart" ...BSA is not Baby Sitters of America, a large portion of this "game" is learning self reliance.


All of this said, "Nephew" needs to be gently self-assertive and let his patrol members know he values their scouting skills and wants to be just as skilled...

(if they will only help him)...


And I have had this discussion with many new parents recently...Boys are not the most sensitive instructors in the world...They also expect more from each other that spoon feeding...The Scout moto "Be prepared" has real meaning to young, literal minded scouts, so be sure your nephew has read his Handbook several times...'cause if he does not "know" some of the "book learning" (theory) when he asks for 'instruction'...

he may be disappointed in the results.


Now for you...does the troop have a "parent" orientation package? (or series of parents classes?) (I am assuming here you are acting "in loco parentis" :as a parent) Do they have some way of telling you folks how their troop does things, what is expected of parents, what is expected of the scouts and the troop? You might check and see what they do to "educate" new parents...(We have two orientation meetings, camping classes and Next week I am teaching winter back packing 101 to new parents...it helps).


If they have "nothing" in the way of handouts/information or parents meetings it would be prudent to invite yourself to the coffee pot and a meeting with the C.C. and the SM ; ask all the questions you can before the coffee runs out...Make contact with the Advancement coordinator (chair?) to see what he does to track and encourage the scouts advancement progress(In some small troops this is the SM).


Just keep in mind that "adult" expectations are based on a semi well run "world" or system...a Boy Led troop borders on a bad lesson in Chaos theory..."Progress" is usually much slower than parents are used to because the boys are all learning the ropes (and their jobs) while trying to make the program "run"...like sausage making, it is not something the "weak stomached" (is that a word?)should watch...


So, you get the "scoop" from the Adult Leaders and your nephew should do the same from the boys...then compare notes and set a course...try not to be too judgemental towards 13-15 year old boys star scouts)they make their share of "faux pas". Just keep encouraging your Nephew...he has lots of time; let him enjoy scouting and find his own way..."monitor" the game but only step in when (if) all else seems to fail. After a bit you may be surprised...it usually works out.



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anarchist brought up First Class in First Year. An idea created by Boy Scouts to get all there new scouts to First Class in there First Year. However, I have mixed feelings about as my troop's Membership Coordinator and New Scout Patrol Advisor.


If your nephew comes to all the meetings and outings (thus he should be achieving Rank Advancement requirements) his progress toward First Class should resemble his active participation. This means that as he proves to another person (approved by the Scoutmaster to sign off requirments)it should be signed off.


In my troop each Patrol has an adult Patrol Advisor, a Patrol Leader, and an Assistant Patrol Leader. The Advisor works with the Patrol Leader in a similar way to that of the Scoutmaster and SPL. The Patrol Leader comes up with a short (10-20 minutes) Patrol Meeting Agenda to use during Patrol Time at Troop Meetings and is encouraged to have advancement be part of it at least once a month. In the patrols with scouts not yet First Class the Asst. PL is explained the importance of rank advancement is strongly encouraged to work with these scouts. Also, in our troop, the Troop Guide position is year round and his job is to directly work with any scouts not yet First Class in their First year(during the Sept.-Jan. months he works with any scout that is not yet First Class).


Rank Advancement is important. It helps keep scouts intrested in the program.

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Thank you for all the replies.


Nephew does not miss ANY scouting activity - Troop meetings, Campouts (which this Troop is currently only doing when there is a District Camporee), CoHs, 2 weeks of Camp, etc. There are no individual Patrol meetings, just weekly Troop meetings, during which the Patrols may meet for 15 minutes or so. There are no specific advancement activities planned or carried out during the meetings. So far, all of his work for advancement has either been learned at home or at camp and then signed off by one of the boys in the Troop (The sign offs in this Troop can be done by anybody at least 1 rank higher).


I'm not asking for anybody to spoon feed anybody else. However, if we wanted to do all of the learning solely at home we wouldn't bother with Scouting. It isn't Cub Scouts, the parents aren't the ones to sign things off, I don't think they should be the only ones doing the teaching. The book can back up practical lessons and offer the mechanics in theory...but learning to tie a knot is a bunch easier when there is someone showing you how...lighting a fire or stove would be much the same way. Agreed that reading the book is very important for learning the pieces, basics, etc. But, I believe the book needs to be partnered with practicals.


He knows he will be unlikely to make 1st Class in his first year as swimming is still an issue, but he takes great pride in knowing he has at least passed the 2nd Class swim requirement (even if it was just barely). He would like to be able to finish 2nd Class this year so he can focus more time on improving his swimming.


I will suggest talking to his SPL as his next step. I will not talk to anybody on his behalf until he has at least made the attempt himself first. My job (as his Adult), as I see it is to offer direction as necessary, not do it for him. I do occassionally talk to the SM or an ASM when I need a direction to point him in, since there are parts I'm not sure about.


Meanwhile, I'll hold my breath and see what changes come when the current SM and CC step down at recharter.


Thanks again



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Troops should be boy run however... It is the job of the SM to work with the PLC to deliver the program. The SM can not know all. Find a quite time and have a talk with him. He can't guide the PLC if he doesn't know about the problem.

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I share Michelle's and her nephew's frustration, as this is similar to the way my son's troop operates. The only difference is that in my son's troop there are plenty of new scouts instead of just a couple. 8 months after the cross-over, 2 of 12 boys have achieved tenderfoot, none have 2nd class. This isn't for lack of attendance on the part of the other 10 boys, his troop just takes a very hands-off approach to advancement that requires the boys to be quite assertive. I understand the value of that in terms of the boys' personal growth but at some points I wonder if it isn't a bit too daunting for those new guys. The 2 boys who have made tenderfoot did most of the work at home with their dads (both eagle scouts), not through being assertive and seeking out instruction from the more advanced scouts or the(non-parental) ASMs. The dads then helped these 2 boys approach somebody to get requirements signed off.


In talking with my son about this situation what I hear is that he doesn't want to appear to challenge "the way things are" because he's the new-comer to the group and wants desparately to fit in. He just about idolizes the older boys so he hesitates to push things or ask the older boys to take time from whatever they're doing to teach him. While the PL (appointed by the troop - he's either 1st Cl or Star rank, I forget which) is a really nice young man who seems eager to have his patrol like him, I haven't seen him actually teach the boys any scout skills. My son is sure his PL walks on water though and wouldn't dream of pressing the PL for more direct assistance, even though that's probably what he needs to do.


Also like Michelle's nephew, no way does he want to change troops so I've stayed silent on that matter, even though other troops in town take a little more of a hands-on approach with their first-year scouts and I think he'd benefit from that style.


Result: he enjoys hanging around with these boys but he isn't learning much in terms of skills, consequently struggles with basic outdoor stuff at camp outs, gets easily frustrated by the stuff he doesn't know how to do, and has even talked about quitting - yet he won't ask the other boys directly for help either.


I've had a couple of quiet conversations with the advancement chair, CC, and SM and the response has been pretty much that this is a boy led troop (is this the answer to *every* question?? seems to be!) and the new scouts need to learn to be assertive. I've heard the SM mention to the older boys that they need to help the newer scouts but there's a long way between being willing (which I believe they basically are)and creating that opening for the new boys so the pressure's not always on them to ask. I'm not talking about hand holding here, I just think that the younger boys could use an occasional structured opportunity for success as encouragement to keep working and growing, and to help them develop the habit of seeking out these older boys on their own.


As a recent cub leader and a mom to boot though, I find a common response is that "oh, this is just the difference between Cubs and Boy Scouts," sometimes coupled with "you're being over-protective because you're the mom." Even if that were the case - and I don't think it is accurate here, I've been vigilant about not getting over-involved in my son's Boy Scouting experience - it isn't that helpful. The reality is still that here's a situation where boys are not learning basic skills, are not advancing, and may well be at a risk of dropping out rather than speaking up.


Sorry for the longish post. It's just a frustrating situation to watch. Michelle, I hope your nephew sticks with it. My sense is that the boys who manage to hang in there under these conditions really do develop valuable skills - it is just a question of whether or not they'll stay in the program long enough to do so.



A good old bobwhite too!

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I am not trying to talk down to you (either of you)here, just probing the ground...your boy has been a scout for 8 months (crossed in Feb?) has not reached Tenderfoot...


some informational questions...


Does troop have a NSP (new scout patrol)?


You mentioned an assigned patrol leader, is he the troop guide?


Is there an ASM assigned to the NSP (if you have NSPs)?


How many campouts has your boy been on since February? What does he do on these campouts?


Have you and your son read the Scout Handbook together (or even alone/separately)?


Does he carry his handbook in his pack to every campout?


Did he go to summer camp this year?


What skills is he not learning? specifically?


I ask these question because I just finished this same discussion with a mom and a dad-who is an eagle, (different families- same concerns)at back to back committee meetings. They both thought our meetings should be little factory floors... churning out requirements for rank and merit badges...it was a very long night.


Neither boys or parents had done more than flip through the book...(one noted her son was ADHD and had problems with books) -thus my question about parents reading the book...


If these boys are participating in an active outdoor program they have probably done most of the tenderfoot and some of the second class work...if you look at the requirements these are not hard skills...


Tenderfoot- requirement 1.) Present yourself to your leader properly dressed...show your camping gear... etc...

2)Spend at least one night on a patrol or troop campout in a tent you have helped pitch...

3) on thecampout assist in preparing and cooking one of your patrols meals...

4.whip a rope and tie a tauntline and two half hitches....

and it is all in the book...


This is not graduate level calculus...with just a minimum amount of "assertiveness" like ah, just... asking, he (they all) should be able to do this... the "test" is usually a demonstration or a discussion.


More importantly, if he has been active, he should be able to sit down with his PL or the ASM / SM and get lots of things straightened out and signed off by presenting his book and telling what he did in many of those camps...As a scout your parents don't have to be eagle scouts...but you have to want to do the work.


If the boys carry the handbook and KNOW what requirements they need to achieve for the next rank (you do have to read the book, not just look at the pictures) they can do something in camp and "whip the book out" for a "sign off". Or, on the next car trip home from a campout, if he knows that he needs the Buddy System check off...(requirement 9), he discusses it with a ASM or PL or older scout on the ride home, and..."out comes the book" for another "sign off"


Much of the first several ranks is "regurgitation" of stuff they learned as Webelos with just a little more detail...much of it is just "read and repeat" what's is in the book...requirement # 7) "repeat from memory the oath, Law and slogan and explain in your own words what they mean..."


And again, I am not trying to be disrespectful but I find a big disconect between Cub parents and the Boy Scout program. The program offers a trail towards Eagle and some of the support to get there...not a nightly class room...and the boys have to be ready to learn, even eager!

But in the final analysis, our boys have to do some growing and accept a little more responcibility at each level...most of all they have to start taking on the responcibility of knowing where they are at in the process and what they need to do to advance....


Classes at troop meetings are generally prepatory to troop activities in the coming months not individual rank advancement classes...and the individual scouts need to be awake enough to see when there is an opportunity to use the 'prep class" material for advancement potential...

like first aid for the next hike gives the new scout an oportunity to learn the first aid for most of the tenderfoot requirement (which also has a lot of the "readyman" requirements from Webelos...)

We need to be aware that the troop has to guard against becoming a week night class room and taking the "fun" out of scouting for many more boys...


Now that you hate me more than dust mites...


If your troop does not have a New Scout mentor program of some kind - you might volunteer to help here. Just repeating your concerns at meeting and at committee meetings can help...but do so constructively and as in our troop any time someone has an idea or a problem thay can expected to be asked to help solve it...No experience needed!


We use troop guides- Older scouts who "mother hen" (sorry) the boys through their first year- (the new scouts all rotate as their own patrol leaders in two month assignments -including attending the PLC meeting)and we have an assigned New Scout Assistant Scout Master to watch everything and monitor progress.


Just having a registered leader looking over his shoulder (without saying a word) might energize the young PL into working harder to get his boys "going".


I look forward to more information if you are still "talking" to me.


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Anachist - I'm not lisabob (nor do I play her on tv), but I did start the thread, so I thought I'd add my 2 coppers in.


1 - if I wasn't prepared for probing questions I wouldn't have posted here. My skin is thicker than that (I hope, though not as thick as that of a Vogon). For my part, feel free to ask/say what you'd like. What I don't like or really have issue with I'll ignore. /smile


2 - Our troop does not have an NSP, nor a Troop Guide.


3 - Nephew has been on all 3 camping trips the troop has taken. He earned Totin' Chip on the first one, a month after crossing over.


4 - He and I have both read his book together.


5 - He did 2 weeks of summer camp (Troop week and Provisional week). He has already asked if he can do all 4 weeks next year.


6 - What isn't he learning specifically? Its more like what does he need a chance to do to show he can. He needs his 5 mile map & compass hike (2nd Class, 1B). I can not do the hike with him for medical reasons and I'm sorry, since the buddy system is such a big thing in scouting you will never convince me to let him do a 5 mile hike by himself. He needs the chance to choose the Patrol camping site (2nd Class 2B), lighting a fire and a lightweight stove (2nd Class 2F) and Cook over an open fire (2nd Class 2G). He hasn't gotten 2D signed off yet but that is easy enough as there are mulitple oppurtunities at any camping experience to do that...nobody wants to work to make fire wood & kindling, and 2E is a discuss and explain which we have been working at home and he will just need to get someone to listen to him to get that signed off.


That's why I'm frustrated with this Troop. He specifically needs to pick the Patrol site but couldn't get a straight answer when he asked for help. Nobody else is left that HAS to do it and he asked for a chance and got the non-answer from Hades. I'm a bit afraid of fire, so I'm not the right one to teach him how to light a campfire or lightweight stove. Again, he just needs someone to be willing to give him a shot during the camping trip. Part of the build up for this Camporee is that if anybody needs their 5 miler there are several trails that fit that range. He just needs to find someone willing to go with him. This, apparently, is where my undereducation in Boys Scouting comes...thus my frustration with this Troop. He doesn't need nightly Classes, Achievement Factory or spoon feeding, he just needs someone to give him his shot to pick the Patrol camp site and cook breakfast. I'll give you that nothing in the requirements say that the hike and the fire lighting has to be done on a Patrol or Troop camping trip, but the Patrol camp site and the cooking thing certainly does.


Asking for help at (almost) 12 years old isn't easy, especially when its older boys you are asking. You don't want to look like a baby in front of them, so it takes everything you can muster to ask for help. With the reception he got this time, it will be dang hard getting him to ask someone else another time.


As far as volunteering to be a mentor for the new scouts, apparently I already am, but I should never be the one signing off anything he does, so that is still not an answer




(nothing but love for ya anachist).

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Of course I'm still "talking" to you...no worries, I've got thicker skin than that! And yes I've read the BSA handbook for the boys as well as gone through a fair amount of BSA leader training directed primarily at Boy Scout leaders (like Woodbadge). I don't pretend to understand all the nuances of the program though and there are times when the differences between cubs and boy scouts catch me off guard. In this case though, I suspect the issue is as much about troop "culture" as the divide between cubs and boy scouts.


To answer your questions:

1. yes there are two NSP and he's in one, along with several other boys from his former pack.

2. No, I don't think the PL is the troop guide, but I'm not 100% sure on this. He is an older (14 yo) scout though.

3. yes there is an ASM assigned to the NSP

4. My son has been on 7 campouts since crossing over - he has missed 1. I have not been at all of the campouts, at my son's request (he wants to do some things w/o mom there and I can sympathize with that!). My son's interpretation in terms of what goes on at the campouts varies. Some have a clear program element like a 5 mile hike or the district camporee at the May/June camps. Others, he says they spend almost all their time cooking (mainly the PL does this from the sound of things), eating, cleaning, and either sitting around or following the older boys around. I'd like him to be more assertive here - ask for someone to show him how to do skill x, y, z - but this is where he and I don't see eye to eye.


5. Yes we both have read the book, together and separate. This is something I did in preparation for woodbadge training (as a cub leader) and in an attempt to help prepare our webelos scouts for the transition. It is something I've encouraged my son to do and more or less, he's probably read everything through the 1st class rank at least once.


Like you, I have little patience for people who won't bother to at least look at the book.


But there's a difference between reading and doing, and this is a big reason I want him to be active in scouts - to DO things.


6. Yes he takes his handbook with him on campouts. Whether he always uses it while there...I can't be sure.

7. Yes he went to summer camp, but as a provo scout rather than with his troop (his troop went on a trip to a national park instead of regular BSA camp. Unfortunately the trip conflicted with a major family event that my son really wanted to attend. So we arranged for him to attend a traditional BSA camp as a provo scout a different week- better than nothing, we figured). We were proud of him for doing it. He was one of the youngest boys in the provo troop (he was 10 at the time, the rest were at least 13) and didn't know a single person there, while most of the other boys in the provo troop did know each other. He enjoyed camp, did some merit badge work, but didn't attend the 1st year program he was signed up for (says he didn't realize he was supposed to, though I still can't figure out how that could've been the case!). It would've been a good opportunity for him to learn and practice basic skills if he had done it, but as I wasn't there and didn't find out until the week was over, not much to be done about it.

8. Specific skills he's not learning:

**knot tying, whipping, and fusing - well, actually I taught him these (and he'd done whipping and fusing in webelos too)- as you say, it isn't rocket science. But the point of scouting isn't to have mom teach you everything, this was just an act of exasperation on my part.

**fire building and safety

**outdoor cooking (they cook on propane stoves but the PL does most of the work here)

**knife/axe/saw safety and use (he has a whittling chip from cubs but that's not the same as the expectations for 2nd class or totin' chip)

**first aid (yes, some parts are similar to readyman but just because he did it as a webelos in 4th grade doesn't mean he remembers it now)

**map & compass skills


I really don't want his troop meetings to be like scout school. I guess I would like a more structured opportunity for him to work on the above skills though. Even in cases where he took rope and a compass with him to meetings, he hasn't really gotten what he was looking for. For example, when he took the rope to a meeting some of the older boys and adults ended up tying all kinds of knots and having fun with it but they did NOT show the younger guys how to tie a taut line or double half hitch (or any of the other knots either), which was kind of the point there, and what he was asking for.


Now, my son could probably have interrupted and said "excuse me but I brought that rope because I was hoping you could teach me how to tie this specific knot." Personally, that's what I'd like for him to have done. But he's young. He wants these older guys to accept him. And he's not going to challenge them that directly. It was after this that I finally said here, I can show you how to tie these knots, which I had been avoiding in the hope that the troop would provide opportunities for him to learn this from someone other than me.


Actually he will probably finish his tenderfoot requirements before the end of December (10 months after joining) because I am going to end up doing it with him at home, rather than have him continue talking about quitting because he isn't making any progress. But again, that's not the point. There will be a time soon when I really can't teach him these things. I don't know anything about handling an axe, for example, and sure don't want to "teach" him after just reading the book, with no experience. Even if I could teach him all this stuff though, isn't part of the scouting experience that you learn new things from new people?


And the larger question still, beyond my boy, is whether running such a hands-off first year program will lead to retention problems, is on my mind. Not all parents are going to decide to step in and teach their boys these skills if the troop doesn't. Some will just quit. That's so unfortunate.


These concerns have already been brought to the committee's attention (and the ASMs/SM) by several parents. They are, again, really nice people with lots of great ideas and big hearts - why else would they spend their time in scouting, right? And as I think you said in a post elsewhere on this board, there's a definite concern about newbie parents jumping in and suggesting change before they know what they're talking about. But, the response I've seen so far from the troop leadership (adult) was that these new boys need to be more assertive and that will solve everything. My whole point is that maybe it is unrealistic to expect them to be a whole lot more assertive than they are, without some guidelines or clear windows of opportunity in which to do that.



A good old bobwhite too!

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Lisabob and msnowman,


Well lisabob, your row is gonna turn out the easier to hoe...it sounds like you have a fairly progressive (no, you conservatives out there; it's not a dirty word)troop.

they seem to be active (outdoors wise) and at least have a program for NSPs which gives your scout many more opportunities than Michelle's nephew...


so lets start at the top...inititive- ask yourself...when 'boy' wants new game...does he have problem asking? Not hardly. When son wants a pizza...any problems asking? probably not.


The bigest difference is "strange" adults and older boys...who need to be asked. Your scouts need to understand that asking for opportunity is not a challenge to authority if done properly...And the handbook helps here. If scout has "book in hand" (it should be nearby at nearly all times) and says, "wow" I need to build a fire... can I build our fire on the next campout? The answer is likely to be yes...and if said in front of the ASM/SM the yes is a near certainty. But from years of watching this unless you "force" the boys to "own" the experience...they get real comfortable waiting for mom or someone else to do it for them.


Next...I said he could/should learn a lot at home...not be taught at home...fire for instance...the Handbook has about 8 pages...of material that he can practice at home with out striking a match...practice building the different lays, identify and collect a good supply of different tinder types...he needs to be prepared so when the chance to learn and be tested presents...he is ready for the opportunity. Parent support and encourage...it is his job to be ready...


Since you (lisabob) have an ASM to work with do so...let them hear that "discouragement" is popping up. Ask right up front what progress he expects from the NSP and what the assigned DL is supposed to do (duty wise)...from "vast" experience (four years as NSP mentor)I find many guides/ DLs become just like some Moms and Dads...letting the New Scouts do "it" (whatever "it" is) is so mentally painful and so much more work...it is just easier to do it himself and let the new scouts play or maybe watch. This can be brought up easily by your scouts in an I "need to cook" (pick a site, whatever) discussion. And you can buttress the request in the committee room and in coffee breaks with the ASM/SM.


Michelle, unfortunately if the only camping your troop does is three or four camporees and summercamp...you have a lot of problems. For starters Most camporees are so "program heavy" there is almost no time for "non essential extras" Last year we had a camporee with 16 skill stations that the boys had to visit and participate in, over the course of a day (and still eat meals and clean up)...


It may be time to see if the troop would support some targeted patrol campouts...designed to help fill advancement requirements...ask the ASM?SM and suggest to the DL but be prepared to have to support the "program"...if they don't come up with an alternative. When we jined our troop it had a good outdoor program but it had no provisions for young scouts they were left to sink or swim on many activities...our solution was to help enhance the program...we started looking for ways to give a better program mix to the younger boys...since we were not messing with the older scout program and were willing to do some of the heavy lifting we were left to do nearly anything we wanted to do...before long we had other patrols asking to go along on some of our adventures...


Lets get creative with the hike he needs...did you really read the requirement?...It does not say it has to be in a wilderness or even the woods...in fact it says using a "compass and a MAP YOU HAVE DRAWN"...not even a professional "Real" map...now how is 'junior" supposed to draw a map of a area he has never visited?


I do not know where you live...urban, suburban or rural but there are several ways of skinning this particular cat...if you live in a subdivision get the car out and drive through your community with your nephew. Figure a street route of five miles (odometer) then have nephew draw a rough map...street "A" is .71 miles, road "B" is .20 miles, "C" boulevard is 2.75 miles...etc. til he has five miles on his map. show it to the SM and ask for approval...maybe even ask him to assign an older scout to show your nephew the compass techniques...but in the end the buddy system is not required (though he could show a non scouting friend his compass skills during the walk)...have him "shoot" and record the directional bearing of each "turn" on his map...and he is ready for the sign off...


your boys need to look out for opportunities to advance and be ready (prepared)...when they are presented.


One point I really want both of you to try to understand...Older boys are ...er.. boys, and even the best of them get tired of "baby sitting and always teaching the little kids". I learned this from my Oldest (now an Eagle chasing girls in college). When he was a new scout (a real competitor...driven to be the best...very anal) he was always... ah,... lets say "griping" about the OLDER SCOUTS never being "there" for him and his patrol and that when he was an older scout he would help the younger boys... Some how he got through...and as he matured, the SM and SPL would ask him to teach, to demonstrate, to mentor...and darn if he didn't start "griping" about 'having a life' and wanting to hang with the older scouts and not baby sit....thusly giving me the opportunity to remind him of his words and finding some of those few wonderful "parent moments" of "helping him eat his words". WE expect a lot from these older boys, sometimes they need motivating and they always need a pat on the back when they do well.


I have no problem with "newbies" asking questions and wanting changes...as long as they are willing to roll up their sleeves and work for the program...but they must understand that boy led is nowhere near as efficient as adult led and most days we seem to take two step forward one step back and some days its only one step forward and two steps back...these boys are learning the system, learning to think for themselves, learning to teach and learning to lead...now thats a lot to ask anyone to do...and have fun while doing it!


walk gently and carry a big coffee cup



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