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High Adventure - What to do if the Scouts don't want to plan?

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I am the ASM "responsible" for our troops older scouts and our virtual venture group. We bring the older scouts together (13 and 1st Class) in this group to "plan" for the high adventure. My dilemma is that none of the scouts seem interested doing any of the the heavy lifting involved to planning for next summers high adventure (not at a BSA facility, unfortunately). I am being pressured from the committee to do most, if not all, of the planning myself. Not something I want to do as we strive to be boy run. It appears that I may have to do the bulk of the planning if we want to do anything unless I come up with a different strategy to address this situation. And yes, I have the scout lit on high adventure.


Now my questions - what would you do, if anything, to better motivate the scouts to be involved in the planning process? Is it unusual to have this type of reaction by the scouts? What part of the high adventure planning is appropriate for the adults to do?

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Yes, they have selected "South Dakota" as the destination, but are still trying to figure out what to do or where to do it - other than visit Mount Rushmore.

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Lay it on the line to the youth. Plan it or we don't go.



Adults should handle tour permit, ensuring med forms are in, fees paid, mainly the big logistics stuff.



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Have any of these scouts planned high adventure trips before? They may be overwelmed. Try cutting it up into little pieces for them and give them guidance. For example, give them some suggestions on how to find ideas for things to do in South Dakota, or have an internet party, where they can get together and look up ideas with your guidance, etc..

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My intent is to set these boys up to suceed. I have gave them print outs on locations and places in SD, we have discussed options in the last few months), and I have asked them to identify where they want to go and what they want to do - nothing. I know we can always use the nuclear option (ie no high adventure) but that is the last thing we want to do. We have struggled to find a way to keep the older boys interested and they do not have any history or troop tradition to help pull them through this. All of the other high adventures appear to have been adult planned, so we are plowing new ground here.

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I'm with jr56 on this. To be honest, I can't imagine that a 13 year old could plan a very complex trip, especially if they don't have much experience at it. So Im sure that to them it looks as monumental as a mouse eating an elephant. Does you PLC plan the monthly trips?


Here is what I would do if I were you. Spend the next six months training them on planning. Start off small and have them first plan an evening trip to the movies, then an overnight trip at a local park. Then a weekend high adventure trip like backpacking or what ever. Make each trip something unusual and sounds cool. Let them know that is what is going on, then tell them that the SM is letting your group go to the movies at the next meeting. But, they have to plan the trip or it is a no go. Then you start the training. Give them basics of planning and a menu that they can follow for every trip. Something like this:


Destination information like fees and times.

Times and dates.

Scouts and scouters attending.

Transportation required and Route.

Required documents for trip.

Equipment required for trip.


You get the idea. Start with the easy trip, and gradually make it more complex so that the scouts can see how to plan the trip. As they get practice, I think they will get better following the plan and gaining confidence.


Also, give them deadlines and hold them to them. Dont wait until the deadline to ask if they are ready, they likely at first wont. Give them time to save face. I used to do something like this: Hi SPL, Im just calling to find out how that plan for the next weeks PLC meeting is going. Oh you still arent finished. Thats OK, just give me a hint. Oh, I see. OK, is it alright that I call tomorrow then?. They never say no and usually they have something to offer. Our adult for the Troop news letter is very smooth with this method of getting his scouts to meet deadlines. I almost feel guilty.


Its not that our kids are lazy today, its that we dont really give them that much practice at building a discipline for meeting timelines. You just need to remind them that others are counting on them and give them a little room to save themselves. Their guilt will motivate the rest.


A few of our scouts got so good at planning that they got mad if adults offered to help. But it took a few years to get our troop to this level of confidence and independence. But you have to understand their maturity and experience level of the task to know where you help or stand back.


Hope this helps.




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Ok, pick a date, any date as long as its at least 2 weeks or so in the future and on a day and time with as few scheduling conflicts as possible (IE not a troop meeting night, but maybe after) and announce the planning for the event will occur that night with whoever shows up. Promote it with phone calls, emails and meeting announcements. That night, plan the trip with who ever shows up, they get to pick the places and when in the trip. Be sure to let the scouts know the particulars: transportation, tour permits, medical forms will be adult done, but the where you going, what you going to do will be decided that night.


Now, work with those who show up, if its only one or two, let them in on the secret, you will plan the trip heavy with museum stops and educational opportunities, in short, stuff they hate. Then announce the preliminary schedule. make sure they know its not yet "set in stone" but its the first pass and thats the schedule if no other suggestions come. Then set the date for the final planning, again with lots of notice and care for as few scheduling conflicts as possible. Be sure to let those who just cant attend can write/email suggestions and see what happens.(This message has been edited by OldGreyEagle)

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Yah, yah, what jr56 and Eagledad said!


No fair playin' sink or swim on a big task like planning a high adventure trip, especially with 13-year-olds. Most adults would sink. Either build up to it as Eagledad said, or, if you really need the high adventure opportunity to "seed" some other excitement, then plan it "together" with them tagging along and offerin' suggestions. Yeh got another 5 years to help da kids develop their plannin' skills, eh? Let them see and feel a great trip the first time. Most units that have youth doin' planning, those youth have spent several rounds bein' participants before they pick up the leadership and planning role.


Also, don't be too quick on pushin' "high adventure." 13 is a borderline age for such stuff; not all 13 year olds will be ready for that level of physical activity, mental challenge, or commitment. If they're not askin' for it, consider whether you're pushing too early. It might be better for you to plan a 1-week "Adventure JLT" where you spend a day bikin' and climbin' and backpackin' etc., just to give them ideas for what's possible (for the troop to do, and for the older boys to do more of).


Boys aren't good at "abstract." They need to see and touch stuff. Give 'em a ride or two, then some instruction and some time with you sittin' right seat before you make 'em solo.



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If it were only 13 yr olds. We have a number of 14, 15, and 16 yr olds. A bit of history, the adults planned a High Adventure this summer to provide an experience for the scouts and only got 4. A good size, I found, as they really enjoyed themselves. Unfortunately, these scouts are now tied up in sports and not actively involved for a few months.


I will use the suggestions provided to try to move this forward. I was really stuck for ideas - something that happens as you get older, I'm afraid. I will report back and let you all know how well the "theories" presented here worked in practice.

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I'd say give them all the help you can. When our troop planned it's first High Adventure trip the SM and ASM did the actual work. The PLC was given choices as to route to be hiked but most of the "heavy lifting" was done at the adult level. We "booked" the hike through our Council which runs a High Adventure program at our Summer Camp. We began the hike on a Sunday night and Tuesday morning half the boys wanted to quit. We had an EXCELLANT staff guide who talked with the boys and convinced them to "go till lunch" then "go till dinner" by Wednesday morning the boys were planning the next years hike. When they got back to the troop they were so UP the rest of the boys couldn't wait till next summer. The PLC worked on details off and on all year and we had a great turn out because the boys did the leg work and talked it up between themselves.



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I talked with another one of our ASMs and discussed using methods espoused in this thread - his response was "Excellent, now we have a plan". A plan to teach how to plan. I agree with Barry that we need to look at this situation as training the scouts to develop a plan and then working the plan. Heh, that could be a great concept for a book :>

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I'm really sold on the:

Train them. Trust them. Let them lead idea.

Of course this isn't something that happens over night.

All too often someone will attend a training, hear about this, return to the unit on a Training high and inform the Scouts that the unit is now a youth led unit.

At the next officers meeting, the youth sit there with that deer caught in the headlights look.

We have several Eagle Scouts in the Ship who couldn't plan a trip to the bathroom without some help.

When we first started the Ship most of the "Where we are going and what we are going to do" ideas came from me.

We had just started and if someone hadn't come up with something we'd end up doing nothing and we would have been dead before we even reached the water.

After the Ship's election, I started training our youth leaders. We went away for a weekend and I hit them with our Quarterdeck Training.

It was all good stuff. We had movies, games, all sorts of presentations, ate a lot and ate some more. Everyone said it was a wonderful weekend. I came home with a head so swollen I hardly made it through the door.

Soon after we had planned to go Caving.

Not a hard task/trip to plan.

we had Considered the task.This involved what had to be done, who does what, when, where, and how.

The Scouts had chosen Laurel Caverns, so we knew where we were going. We knew we wanted to go caving, they had picked out when they wanted to go and as the caves are only a 20 minute drive they knew that we could use use the leaders cars. This was all decided by committee. We had reached a decision.

Now it was time to break up the task into who was going to do what.

I had met with the Boatswain before the meeting and nudged /helped him with coming up with a list of what had to be done.

What would it cost?

What times were available?

Did everyone know how to get to the caves?

What gear would we need?

Were there forms that needed to be completed and if so by who?

He went into the meeting.

He seen the list and was at first a little overwhelmed. He thought it was all down to him!! That's when we had a chat about shared leadership and delegation!!

As most of what we wanted to know was on the Laurel Caverns web site, the Yeoman offered to look it all up. She would keep the Boatswain informed and share the information with the other Ship's members.

We had failed to Consider the alternatives.

Sure enough Murphy's Law would have it that the date they wanted was not available the Caverns closed for the winter the week before!!

The alternative was to change the date and go when the Caverns were open or find some other caves!! We (they had to make a decision)

The plan had been written down at the Quarterdeck Meeting, but now changes had to be made.

The next full meeting of the Quarterdeck wouldn't leave enough time to get everything done. So the Yeoman contacted the Boatswain and explained the situation. He called me, asking what to do?

I asked him what his options were?

We went over them together:

Find out about other caves.

Change the date.

Cancel the activity.

He thought changing the date would be the best idea.

But this brought a new set of problems . He now had to reconsider the resources.

Would the Leaders who were providing the transportation be available on this new date? What else was going on that weekend?

He talked with the Yeoman, they send out e-mails and talked with the adults.

We went caving.

After the event we reflected on the event and how it was carried out.

The minutes of the Quarterdeck show that everyone had fun and the event was a success. It also shows that maybe we could have handled/managed the release forms that the Caves required better and relying on e-mails and having parents down load the forms doesn't work in part because parents and Scouts don't have the same e-mail address and some Scouts don't share stuff with their parents.

We might have done a better job of informing everyone how dirty and wet they would get and while a change of clothes was mentioned it wasn't stressed. We had stopped to eat on the way home, but hadn't told everyone that we would and that they would need cash.

They had tried to plan a Halloween Dance, they did a really great job only thing was it turned out to be a Valentine's Day Dance and we lost $45.00.

While we do cover the 7 steps of planning in our Quarterdeck Training, the real training is very much on the job training.

My role as Skipper is very much trying to guide by asking a lot of:

"Have you?" or "Did you?" or "What about trying?" type questions.

The dance lost $45.00 because there was a break down of communication and someone went ahead and booked a DJ who was too expensive and then took it on themselves to offer a reduced price ticket for couples.

No one was happy that we had lost the cash!! But by using the reflection we seen what had gone wrong, we as a Quarterdeck seen that while the person who had booked the DJ was at fault, there was enough "blame" to go round and we needed to look at some areas and improve how we managed them.

You might want to sit down with the group that you are working with. For a little while put the trip to one side and go over the 7 steps.

Have them elect a Team Leader/Go to person. This is the person you need to work with. Help him plan meetings that will cover what needs to be done, explain to him that he needs to delegate tasks to others and hold them accountable for doing them. You might want to check with him and the person doing the task to see how things are coming along?

If it seems something isn't working, go to the Team Leader and let him know, be ready and willing to ask him what he is going to do about it. The easy thing would be to jump in and fix the problem, but that isn't what we are about!! Asking the right questions and following up will do more.



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Great post Eamonn, but I have a couple side questions;


>>We have several Eagle Scouts in the Ship who couldn't plan a trip to the bathroom without some help.

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