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Bald Eagle

My son wants to quit Scouts

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I have lurked for a while here and have a great respect for all the excellent advise. I need some of that now.

 

My son is 13 and Star rank. He lacks only a conference and a Board of review for his Life rank. He has become lukewarm about scouting, not really saying he wants to quit, but finding more and more reasons not to go to meetings and campouts. He has been to one meeting in the past month and one campout since November. But he always has a great time on the campouts though and is signed up for a high adventure trek this summer. He hates wearing the uniform anymore and he has said things that make me think his friends think scouting is not cool. I am an Eagle and am a uniformed leader in his troop. I know that if he quits sooner or later he will regret it but it is hard for him to see this now. I don't want to run his life for him, but I do want to help him make good decisions. I'd like for him to continue in Scouting but I know that if I push him too hard, he'll shut down. Surely this is a fairly common situation. Does anyone have any advise?

 

 

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Bald Eagle,

Welcome to the forums.

 

A Scout in my Troop was very similar to your son. His dad (not an Eagle) is a uniformed leader in our Troop & his son wanted to quit. His dad told him if he quits, he has to replace Scouts with another activity or a job. And watching TV & playing video games or surfing on the computer didn't count as activity. This boy earned his Eagle!

 

Ed Mori

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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This is normal for this age. There are a lot of changes going on in his life. He is getting away from the age of hanging with groups to feel good about himself. Now he starting to look beyound acceptance in the group to acceptance in the the world. His emotions are starting to get mixed up and now he doesn't want to do things just because someone says so. He is growing into a man and the urges that come with that are independent thinking. He wants purpose to his actions and scouting is getting in the way of that.

 

This is when I ask parents to push just enough. Enough to keep him active without stepping to much into his space. Beg, make deals or even give money, but keep him in the program because in most cases, this will only last about year. Once you get through that, he will feel a belonging with the program again, provided the program is mature for him. And that is important. He needs a man size responsibility to feel good about himself.

 

The uniform is a big clue. When we humans get at the age of questioning ourselves and world, we tend to want to discard things that don't make sense. I would expect that your son is protesting in some small way as well by not wearing as expected. He is rebelling and that is how youth at this age challenge others with their questions. Take the challenge and teach him. Sometimes it is you that will learn a lot because maybe you will find he is right.

 

I got my boys through these times by making a deal. I told them that I wouldn't expect them to go to everyone meeting or campout, but they could only one meeting a month, and one camp out every six months or so. This is hard because I was the SM. As for uniform, I got good at explaining the value of it and loyalty of doing the right thing. In most cases, he will have no trouble with the uniform when he reaches 14 or 15. We had two groups go to Philmont last year. It was very clear that the 13 to 14 year olds had little respect compared to the 15 16 year old group. Eventally they grow past it.

 

But your son has a lot on his mind and scouting challenges a lot of that. Give him some room like you have been doing, but don't give in for at least another year.

 

Barry

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Welcome to the forums. I can't read your son's mind. Life at age 13 is going pretty fast. Could be he just wants a change. I doubt anyone will give you an answer that sounds perfect. If you let him take a break, he has 4+ years to return and finish. This unit has had scouts who functionally did that. And we've had a few who made Life and stopped advancing. The most recent one (over 18 now and regretting it) just asked to talk with me about 'things'. I told him that there is nothing wrong with Life rank. And that his feelings about not finishing could just be one of the best life lessons he could have. He now knows what it is like to let an opportunity pass, and therefore has a better chance of avoiding this thinking error in the future (possibly when the decision has a much greater impact).

My son also wanted to quit. I made a deal with him: make it through Star and then I would honor his wish. At Star he decided to go all the way. And I WOULD have honored his wish. Good luck.

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When this happens in our troop, I tell the parents that Scouting is not a objective, it is a process. The longer a boy stays in the program, more of the ideals will rub off and become part of his character. However, scouts who drop (and there are many) are NOT failures and parents should not lay guilt trips on them.

 

Of course, my own 13 year old is going through the same thing, and I really, really want him to make Eagle! (Physician, heal thyself!) It's tough. EagleDad and Pack have given some good advice for many of us. Thanks.

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I'd try a few different things, depending on his motives (and you and he knows that better than anyone else).

 

Here's a few questions:

 

- What's your role in the Troop? If I were a casual observer at a Troop meeting or activity, would I be able to tell (other than a family resemblance) that he was your son or you were his father? Do you ride him like Zorro, or are you detached, or somewhere in between? (If he thinks you're too heavy-handed, the best way to avoid that discomfort may be to quit Scouting, in his mind)

 

- What's your Troop program like for older Scouts? Do you have a Venture Patrol, or take the older Scouts on "big-guy-only" events? Do older Scouts get perks due to their age and tenure, such as a later lights-out, or a big-guy-only cracker barrel? (Older Scouts need a different program than the new Scouts do, to stay interested and feel valuable. Look at their high schools -- very age and class-conscious, in terms of freshman, sophomore, etc. If the social structure wasn't that way, they'd create one that was that way. A teenager resents being treated like an 11-year old. Seek out ways you may be doing that, and change them.).

 

- What's your son's role in the Troop? POR? If not a Green Bar, what's his relationship with the Green Bars? Has it changed recently? (If he's a Green Bar, are his peers pulling their weight? If he's not, did he run for election and lose -- that can cause resentment, especially if the Scouts who won are not doing well.)

 

- Does he have a girl in his life (other than his mom)? (Always a competitor for his discretionary time. If the girl thinks Scouting is "dorky", he'll try to distance himself from it. A well run program can compete with almost anything...I haven't figured out how to overcome hormones, though. One thing I point out is my assertion that a girl who is forward-thinking and has her priorities straight sees much more potential for success in the Eagle Scout than she does in the C- slacker. Plus, you'll make many more points with her father, because as the father of a daughter, one of my default questions for a prospective suitor is "what was your highest rank in Scouting?" -- "none" is an automatic disqualifyer)

 

- Have you actually asked him why he's losing interest? Have you talked with him about your experience as an Eagle, and how it's helped you, with concrete examples? (Reflect until you get to the root cause...you might be surprised, but at least you'll know what to do)

 

- Have you considered "pulling" instead of "pushing"? In other words, the carrot instead of the stick. (Many parents I know use an incentive to encourage their sons to reach a goal. For example, Eagle first, then driver's license, or then the trip to Philmont, or then the notebook computer, or what have you.)

 

Good luck!

 

KS

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I'm really impressed with the understanding of the boys shown in these responses. I'm learning a lot in this thread. I'd also be happy if either of our sons chose to be part of your units--if that were possible :)

 

The thought that came to my mind immediately: is there something in the troop or in a relationship in the troop that isn't quite right? When our son asked to visit a different troop, we supported that because we were simply glad he wanted to be in Scouts. We knew he was not happy, but we also knew we weren't getting the full story. After he transferred, we learned a lot, and we are very proud of his choice. He has shown good judgement. Both my husband and I were registered, and my husband went on most trips and to most meetings, but we did not see some of the things taking place that our son was dealing with. So, in a nutshell, is something "off"? I hope not, but it's worth finding out from him if this might be the case. Tread lightly though; it can be uncomfortable.

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As an Eagle Scout, like myself, you probably remember who you reeeaaalllly looked up to when you were a 13 year old.

 

What I'm getting at is that an older Scout who can give your son an important job to do at a meeting or campout will get a lot further toward keeping your son in the program than you ever will.

 

I'd say your son should have a chat or spend some quality time with the "boy princes" of the troop. If one or more of them takes your son under their wing, eventually the issue will solve itself.

 

I agree that 13 is a tough age. It should almost be treated like homesickness at camp -- what they really need is comfortable surroundings and not more Dad.

 

Good luck.

 

Unc.

 

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Bald Eagle,

 

Oldest son...very active very 'cool'...sports, girls and grins...

 

and always liked dad telling him a story...

 

few years back -around Star Rank scouting became a drag...didn't like the uniform...especially the neckerchief...hated 'authority figures' (gets it honestly) but most of all scouting was uncool to most of his friends...

First deal was paint ball gun...kid loved the game but I place a Life Scout Rank 'in front' of his being able to Own a gun...(renting 'field guns' wasn't cool) so he dug in and 'made' Life...

 

Along the way to Life we 'hit another bump' and I had a talk about 'a friend of mine'...You all know him; the guy (Bob or George or Chuck) whos son thought scouting was uncool...

And you know my friend (Bob or George or Chuck) sat his boy down and started off...So one of your friends thinks scouting is uncool, huh?

Well son, lets think on that a bit...

Just what is so uncool... about climbing a rock wall and then rappelling down 40 or fifty feet?

 

How about a teenager sliding down a 'natural mud sliding board' and inching up a thirty foot natural chimney, 130 feet below ground, wiggling through keyholes and getting up-close and personal with blind minnows and cave bats down in a cave in Southern Virgina?

 

Whats so uncool about camping on the beach with surf rods and wild ponies for company?

 

...or taking class four and five rapids in an eight person river raft.

 

...or hiking 20 miles, carrying all you need to live for a couple of days on your back

 

or son, how many fifteen year-olds do you know who are competent enough to captain a tandem canoe 110 miles with another scout through class II and III rapids, carrying a weeks worth of supplies and camping in the woods each night where-ever the day happens to ends...

 

In the end, my friend, (you know hin George or Bob or Chuck)asked his son to decide ...was scouting really that 'uncool' or perhaps were some of his "friends", who couldn't appreciate the challenge of scouting just making excuses for their own distaste of adventure...

Just what was so uncool?

 

 

My Oldest sons Eagle Project work detail is this Saturday...Is that cool or what???

good luck

YiS

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Okay, I am going to come at this from a completly different angle. Would it be such a bad thing if he quit...atleast tempereraly? See what his life is like without it. If he isn't enjoying it, why make him do it? In many cases, scouts who don't want to be there ruin things for other scouts. He has plenty of time to get to eagle, so a break might be just right. He could always find himself with another activity that is just as worthwhile.

 

Eric

ASPL

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Have him talked to all of the adult leaders and volunteers as to why they got their Eagles and what that Eagle rank means to them. Now, have him talked to the adult leaders who did not attain their Eagle, especially the Lifers. He will see that there are a lot of regrets and the fact that these adults are now volunteering is because what scouting means to them.

 

As for my son, somehow I finally got him to think that scouting is a priviledge; as a matter of fact, I hold his participation in scouting hostage if he does not do well in school! Lastly, I made a deal with him. He can drive when he is 17 under two conditions: 1) obtain his Eagle and 2) getting good grade in High School. He is 1 rank away from accomplishing the first requirement! (This means that I will have to start saving for the car and insurance! ;) )

 

1Hour

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My son went through that at that same age.

 

I was panicking inside, but I tried VERY, VERY hard to keep my disappointment to myself. I discussed his reasons and dissatisfactions with him and, by my actions, made it clear that I was going to "stay with the program." When he bowed out of an outing, I went without him.

 

I think that it was some form on an independence test. Clearly he wanted to feel independent from me and maybe by seeing that his decision to stay in or leave Scouting wouldn't affect my participation, he felt he could make his own decision to stay in.

 

In any case, he decided to stay and, at 15, is at Life. He's planning his Eagle project and is excited to be a Patrol Leader. He's striving to be the first patrol in our Troop to earn the National Honor Patrol award.

 

Another Scout the same age went through the same period. When his father (ASM) kept coming to meetings and outings without him, he, too, decided to stick with it. Now, he's a very enthusiastic ASPL.

 

These two Scouts look back on that time with embarrassment.

 

Kids. Go figure.

 

- Oren

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My son is almost 12. Same problem. Did the same in Cubs. Grew out of it early. He has just made APL and I suspect that if he really got tested he might see that there is still much to be learned before the he is the big bloke he wants to be.

 

But he has just started high school and his class has five Scouts from our Troop in it. They are all copping a hiding from peers. I know thtey will eventually get over it if only they can hang in there but I remember the same thing and crickey it is tough. Probably even worse than my teen years.

 

Thanks for the advice. Wife and I will think on the suggestions.

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Scouting, what are the benefits?

 

Age 13, what are the benefits?

 

Characteristics first

 

Boys this age cannot see past the end of the school year.

Boys this age have begun a new phase of sexual development.

Boys this age are social.

 

When a young person of this age has learned the basic understanding of what is happening to them and if they have developed enough inner strength to contend with these pressures, then they can accept longer term goals. Even this is limited by the person's perspective that life goes on forever and immediacy is all there is to life.

 

The benefits of Scouting are immediate, like camping and fun activities. To an 11 year old, it is heaven but by the time a Scout reaches 13, the new has begun to wear thin. Part of the developmental phases in Scouting has to do with taking more leadership roles as the Scout matures and increasing the complexity of the camping experiences.

 

It is my observation that advancement follows roughly the same contour. If it is done too quickly, then it becomes a burden and loses its appeal. When advancement is overemphasized, then it becomes the goal. It should be an outcome of growth in Scouting rather than the end.

 

Another benefit of being 13 is that the world becomes bigger and more activities are allowed. Such things as Church, sports, the Order of the Arrow, and friends now may be taking the place of the joy of Scouting. This is a good thing, of course, the idea is to learn balance instead of focusing on one thing to exclusion of all else. This is a life long skill that helps a person adjust to the many changes in the world and work, school and leisure.

 

Accepting that a person is no longer a child which begins around the age of 13 has a lot to do with learning about service and the benefits of service. Accepting that a person now will be an example to others is a big step. Many do not understand or accept this idea but it is part of Scouting. Service for the sake of doing good, the Good Turn, is not something that is easy to learn or accept. The value is very hard to understand because it is complex. We do not always see the benefit of a service project. It is important to bring Scouts back to the scene of their service to show them the results. Many times it is astounding. Some times it is minimal because even service projects need time to mature.

 

The overall mission of Scouting is to instill the values of Scouting. These are large goals and need allot of time and effort to develop. If we focus on attaining the goals of the Scout Oath and Law, then we can learn to be patient when teaching. When faced with a challenge, we must ask ourselves, which value have we learned today rather than think of the immediate failure before us. We can share those lessons with our Scouts and sons. It is important that the example we set as an adult, a Scout Leader, an Eagle Scout is that of the Law and the Oath, always.

 

 

FB

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Let me ask Bald Eagle, what is different about your son's troop program this year compared to last year, and last year compared to the year before?

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