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Lisabob

too many adults

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Grumble! Just found out that the venture patrol in our troop has a couple of upcoming backpacking treks planned where there will be almost 2 adults for every 1 scout in attendance. For the life of me, I cannot get through some people's heads that the boys in the venture patrol neither need, nor want, this overwhelming presence of adults on their trips. Yet, several adults have voiced the sentiment that they WILL attend (with their child) and that the VP cannot prohibit them. And these are typically the most involved/over-bearing adults. Not the quiet ones who let the boys do their thing. This is just unacceptable. How can I help them to understand that they do not need to be there in such overwhelming numbers? It isn't fair to the boys, and especially not to the patrol leader who is really trying to move the venture patrol to a more boy-led place. Grumble!

 

 

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Maybe it's time to remind these people that unless they are a registered youth in the program, they are not participants. Sounds like CC needs to get in and rein in the adults and let the boys run their own program. Even a DC knows that as a leader they don't participate in the program they are assisting with.

 

If the VP wants to go on an outing, there's no rules that state that they have to have ANY adults along. Maybe they ought to enforce it, kinda like the reverse of the Cub Scout rule. A cub can't go unless his parent does, just try on, a boy can't go if his parent insists on going. That ought to solve the problem rather quickly.

 

Stosh

 

 

 

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Well if the adults are forcing the issue that they are comign along, I'ld recommend the following.

 

1) have the CC and SM talk to the parents and explain why it is important for them NOT to go. The Scout don't want them and it's their program.

 

2) have the VP decide if they think it's in their best interest to cancel any trips until the adults decide to act resonably or put up with the faldercarb. It may be time for the scouts as a patrol to step up to the plate, confront the adults with saying that they are destroying THEIR program, and that they will do NO programing until the adults decide to follow the rules.

 

I know I love camping. And yes I want to do as much with my boys as possible when they get to Scouting age. But if they asked me not to come along a trip, I would honor their wishes.

 

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You need at once a distraction and a compromise.

 

Propose that the scouts take a different route or pick a campsite up the trail away from the adults. If its a through hike consider having the adult group hike in from one end and the scouts from the other. Remind the adults of the strife THEY caused the last time they had to be present to judge and criticise the scout's, pace, cooking, cleaning, and why weren't they singing those happy go lucky songs from Follow-Me Boys.

 

Also advise your son, the PL, to hold his patrol in solidarity. If as a group they speak with one voice then it will be harder for the adults to legitimately say they are going for their scout.

 

 

 

 

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Lisabob, maybe I'm running a little thick this morning but....why do all these parents want to go with the VP? If it's for supervision of the patrol then I would suggest the adults and the patrol arrange certain meeting places/times along the trek where the patrol can "check in" with the heliparents. If it's because the parents just want to go on the trek then fine.....they can go as an adult gaggle....and are not permitted to get within 100 yards of the VP at any time. I HOPE that the scoutmaster is not actually going to allow the adults to dictate any of this to your VP.

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Thanks for the classic example of why it's so important to stick with the boy-led, patrol-method approach to scouting. It's important to have a CC that can rein in these people and let the boys have their program to themselves. Give them an inch and they'll take a mile... Once the door is opened to adult-led, it's just a matter of time before the boys are shoved out of the way.

 

Stosh

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A Venture Patrol is for older, experienced Scouts. These boys should be old enough to be able to tell their parents that they want to do this on their own. They can do it collectively or individually, but it seems like that's the only way these parents are going to get it through their heads.

 

Why do you think these parents want to come along? Are they the classic hovering types? Are they trying to relive their own Scouting days? Or do they have legitimate concerns about their sons' skills, abilities and judgment?

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Yah, or another option if you've got a good venture patrol ASM is to have him/her green light the lads to hike at their own pace and set their own distance, eh? Essentially, give 'em approval to leave the adults in the dust.

 

Then the ASM-VP can have the conversation either about how much fun it is to do a shorter hike without those pesky kids around, or about how we adult volunteers should never be the ones holdin' the kids back. Or both.

 

Alternately, if nobody in your unit has the gumption to stand up to these folks, find another troop/venture patrol/crew nearby that does have some savvy, and have them invite your boys along on a few joint treks under their rules.

 

Occasionally I've had a senior scouter type start to criticize the hikin' skills / cookin' skills / LNT practice of the adults the same way they're doin' to the kids. Demand guide-level performance from the adults since that's what they're tryin' to be: guides rather than mentors. Work their tails off so they're too busy tryin' to meet the standard to be able to bother the boys. Navigation challenges, bushwhack segments that they have to make in the designated time, all the T-2-1 review, etc. If yeh really want to drive the point home, have the boys test 'em and critique them. Yeh might even get away with the boys telling them the truth at a Roses & Thorns, but it'll work only after you've run the adults a bit ragged and they've seen the boys outdo 'em skills-wise.

 

Last option is to use the BSA Philmont rules and institute a requirement for all adult participants to meet the optimum weight and Wilderness First Aid training for Venture participation. That should act as a reasonably strong "interest filter."

 

Beavah

 

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Lots of good ideas. I like Beavah's about runnging them ragged and appling the Philmont height/weight standards this year. After all they become mandatory next year with the new form.

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For some reason I can't edit my post above, but I did want to ad one thing upon reflection.

 

You may find that the Scouts are vehemently opposed to their parents' participation when they're together as a patrol, but when asked at home - "Hey, Johnny, is it OK if I go along with you guys?" - they agree. Parents may be getting one message from the Scout one-on-one, but a different message from the patrol. Strength in numbers, after all.

 

If that's the case, the Scouts will have to be prepared for some possibly difficult conversations at home - "Johnny, why didn't you tell me you didn't want me along?"

 

The friendly adult leaders can best help by backstopping the youth and having an open, frank discussion with the patrol about what exactly the dynamics are here.

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There's a bunch of stuff going on here, in terms of why all these adults want to go. One of the adults is the patrol adviser. He has worked very hard to help this group get up and running, in order to give the boys some experience beyond the typical "car camping" that the troop does. Not that car camping is necessarily bad, but this fellow rightly saw that the troop program lacked a certain level of adventure for the older/more experienced boys, and he wanted to get the boys turned on to real backpacking as a venue for more adventure. This guy is great. Many of our Eagles mention the role he plays as a mentor to them in their Eagle courts of honor. And while my son isn't (yet?) an Eagle, he really respects and admires this leader too.

 

So this adviser is coming along, and his son (who just aged out and will shortly be off to college) and his wife (who is a committee member) are also attending. The adviser, understandably, wants to be able to spend time with his son too and only has so much free time. If forced to choose between the two, he would choose family time, leaving the scouts without his support and they both need and want him to be there.

 

Another three boys and their families are just very close. The parents do EVERYTHING with their kids and use scouting as family bonding time. I think one of these two boys doesn't mind that - the other two probably would be quite happy to leave their family members at home, but there could be some mixed messages between boys/their parents there, as shortridge suggests (and in both cases, the parents aren't the types to take subtle hints). So that's another 5 adults there.

 

Another boy - he has had some behavioral problems and his dad has been specifically asked to participate in the past. Additionally his dad has pretty solid back-country skills and has a lot to teach the boys, usually in a low-key and fairly positive way. If it were up to me(which I know it isn't), I'd want this guy to be there.

 

The remaining 3 adults include our committee chair and two ASMs without kids in the patrol. They're going because they like hiking and backpacking, the treks will be fun, and there were openings (max crew size is 20 - the VP consists of 8 boys right now). It does cut down on cost per-person when you fill all spaces.

 

I got told point-blank that telling these adults they can't attend isn't going to fly. And telling the patrol adviser that his wife and aged-out son can't participate would likely mean losing the most experienced, dedicated adult in the whole group. It does raise some real challenges though! Honestly, I like most of these adults, know that they mean well, and recognize that telling adults that they can't participate/have fun with the troop may mean that you lose the support and participation of those same adults later in places and times when you actually need it. There's some need to tread lightly (I'm better at being blunt). I will take your various pieces of advice about how this can be managed and think carefully about it, so please KEEP IT COMING.

 

 

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From your last comments, LisaBob, it sounds like the VP needs to redetermine it's purpose and mission. Do they want independent, challenging activities or do they wish to continue an extension of what's being offered all the troop but in a different venue. Until they have a vision for themselves, there is nothing anyone can do to assist them in attaining their goals. Are ALL the events going to be heavily adult attended, only 1 or 2 during the year, or traditional independent boy-patrol attended? They can have it many ways if that is what they want, but they have to decide for themselves what their vision and goals are and communicate it to the adult leadership. If their vision and goals are not acceptable to the adults, then the boys might just as well fall into place and do the troop car camping thing and forget about a VP patrol. VP patrol is more than just a title adhered to an older boy patrol. If these boys can't spell out what their leadership is going to be, then they need to accept adult-led activities.

 

For me this is why so many older boys quit the troops. They want a vision and goals that challenge and excite them. If that's not possible, they will begrudgingly get their Eagle and quit. What's the sense of learning all these leadership lessons if they never get a chance to put them into practice.

 

Stosh

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The problem is the program leader is not directing it to happen. If the SM pushed and and explained the value of the guys going it alone or at least as few adults possible, the adults would follow because their sons would gain from it. I kind feel from your comments that they don't care. It doesn't even sound like they are afraid of letting the scouts go it alone, they just want to use the Patrol to play. Until the adults change, you have found the limitations of your troop program. This is as good as it gets for all the scouts.

 

The good thing is your persistence might have the effect of a slow trickle of water falling on the rock. Eventually the rock gives way.

 

Barry

 

 

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Yah, I'm with Eagledad. If the adults don't have a sense that the program for the boys is a priority over their personal or family play-time, then you're stuck. No program can develop the best kind of citizens without recognizing a duty to a higher cause. ;)

 

A savvy leader under da circumstances you describe would work to let the boys hike and camp on their own, while the adults had some fun out on their own without the boys. The advisor with his wife and son could have fun on their own without the boys. Just plan their own hike startin' from the same put in and let the boys go on their own.

 

Beavah

 

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Lisa,

 

I'm unclear on something. I get from your original post that you don't like this. What I didn't fully understand is if it is really an issue for the VP or not. Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating for this much adult involvement. I just didn't get the sense tha the boys were against it. I think in every troop, there is a subset of scouts and adults who really long for a more challenging and adventerous program while others are perfectly fine with car camping. Is part of it because the opportunity has now presented itself that some of these adults want to be a part of it? Again, are the boys OK with it or not. If not, then I think a seperate trail is in order once everyone gets to the location. Everyone is happy because they get to do high adventure, just in their own group. It is a win win. The boys get independence and you still have adults willing to fill adult needs like transportation in the troop. Lets face it, we can't exist without the adults. We have over 50 boys in our troop. It takes a good number of vehicles to get where we are going. While we teach the adults to stay out of the boy led program, we work hard to keep from alienating them.

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