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The use of cattle prods

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Oldest son crossed over last spring. He is involved in traveling baseball team which is a major time committment. We did manage to get him to summer camp with many logistical accomodations.

Basketball will be starting this winter, same type of time issues.


My problem is that right now he has time to put into Scouts and he resists! I have tried explaining that when he has the time, he needs to make the most of it. He agrees and says that he understands, but, I see little response.


He says he enjoys scouts and doesn't want to quit. Dad thinks he should quit, because of the time issues that will only get worse as he gets older. So, do I stay on his case or let him go at his own pace? Needs prompting to complete school work also, so this isn't an unusual thing with him.


Younger son is in Webelos and seems to be very motivated.


Thanks for any input you can provide.

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Kids in their first year of Boy Scouting need support and encouragement, eh? I wouldn't bother with long adult explanations, though. His brain isn't wired between those and action yet. I'd just take him to the meetings, encourage and help him sign up for the outings, and talk things up. Don't push advancement, let his peers and leaders do that. Just get him there.


Second year (7th grade) is a different thing. At that point, you have to fade and start leaving the choices up to him.


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For what it might be worth, I have two views on your son's situation:


1st, it is common in our geographical area that when a boy commits to a sporting program, the coaching staff has an expectation that his commitment is 100%. I can understand why - The coach's responsiblity is less to an individual, and more to the team, and perhaps the school for which he coaches. If a boy isn't willing to commit 100% effort, there are other boys more than willing to step up. As understandable as that is from the coach's perspective, it is a real disservice to our children, I think. Our kids should have the opportunity to have to prioritize their schedule - to decide whether baseball is more important than Scouts today, and how he's going to make up his absence to his Patrol when that happens. It's good for a boy to feel he is experiencing a multitude of different activities, all with different goals and objectives, and from which he will benefit in different ways.


It's easy for a kid to be too busy, and I know we need to protect against that. If grades suffer, or family life is reduced to an unacceptable level, then the boy will have to back off. But few kids today are really in that position. If they removed the other distractions that, as pleasant as they may be (T.V. and video games are the most obvious but certainly not the only ones), most boys really have the time to participate in multiple activities, and would be well served to do so.


My 2nd point is about the relative value of Scouting in a boy's life. I read somewhere that the average teenager who participates in high school sports has a 1 in 2,500 chance to earn a scolarship to college athleticly, and a 1 in 16,000 chance of playing a sport professionally. this is not to say that athetics are not valuable - please don't misunderstand - But were I to choose whether I would like my sons to be better baseball players or to become the kind of man Scouting tends to produce, I'll take Scouting EVERY DAY. The skills and experiences a boy gets in Scouting will be appliciple in ANY profession, as well as the kind of husband, father, and citizen a boy will become. Throwing a fastball 90 MPH is really cool, but few have the genes to do so, and everyone else who skips Scouting in order to try will have the benefit of neither baseball nor Scouting.


In our Troop, we do whatever we can to help a boy participate in as many activities as he can accomodate. Most of the time, that means a boy shows up for a Scout meeting 20 minutes late and in cleats. Sometimes it means missing a campout. When he's older, it MIGHT mean he has to decide if further advancement is important enough for him to sacrifice some sports responsiblities. In our Troop, we've had both kinds of guys. We've had a few who wanted to continue to play (football, in both cases), and they came to Scouts when the could, but new that the decision would limited their ability to pursue Eagle Scout. Others decided that Scouting was more important, or fun, or valuable, or whatever they decided, and they gave up a sport, or played in a more recreational league. This has been true for band members and theater particpants as well.


In the end, if we can be the people who accomodate instead of create obstacles, we will have done a great service to a boy. I know I hope that the guys in our Troop feel they get enough from Scouting to want to stay, whether they continue with sports or not.


This is one of the reasons I have tried to limit my posting. Another novel! Sorry this is so long!




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Our sons enjoy Scouts, and they stay on, though each for very different reasons. One has a goal of Eagle because he respects those Scouts he knows who've made Eagle, and he is very interested in taking on leadership and has had and continues to have opportunities in this. Merit badges are something that he views as work, so he doesn't have many completed. However, he is growing in confidence, has fun with his fellow Scouts, is learning new skills and teaching skills to younger Scouts, and is all in all having a blast along the way. Pushing him would make him quit, for this is the one thing he can do because he chooses to do it (unlike school), that truly allows him to grow at his own pace, and that provides him with the very types of activities that he enjoys best and wouldn't have elsewhere. He'll get to Eagle, but he'll do it as his pace, and he has time, and he goes along, he's beginning to learn the value of planning in order to meet goals. Now the other one, I think he could take or leave Scouts, though he enjoys the troop and most activities. He will skip some when they don't interest him. His goals are not clear; they may not exist. An uncle told him he'd give him a large sum of cash if he made Eagle; that made him consider it. However, he hasn't really wanted it for himself. I'm not sure if he'll stay in Scouts, and he knows (they both know) that he may quit, though he must take responsibility for that (communicate it, see through on his commitments if any, that sort of thing). I found it interesting that when he was told he could chose not to continue that he decided to stay in the troop. He does advance, but that's because the troop is active and has a good program--it's pretty hard to be active in the troop and *not* advance. So, all that to say: one is challenged and growing and learning to plan and set goals and therefore is benefitting in many ways, and the other is just plain having fun though he's learning things and doesn't realize it :) School and sports and music are part of their lives too, but unlike them, Scouting allows the pace to be set by the Scout. For us, that's how we view it, and that takes away the pressure that we might otherwise put on the boys to quit or become more active. In a nutshell, I guess whether a parent wants to use cattle prods (and it can be so tempting!) depends upon what the parents' expectations are.

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WDL Mom,


I think much of the answer is "it depends".


It depends on where your son's interest lies. It depends on how much time he has. It depends on his interests. It depends on how the sports teams are run. It depends on how his troop is run. And yes, it depends on what is important to you.


Making the most of all time available is an adult concept. Back in the dinosaur days of our youth, kids had time to go out and find things to do on their own. Spend some time doing a whole lot of nothing. Not true today. Parents expect their kids to make the most out of every moment. Sometimes there is value in laying in the backyard watching the sky. Or sitting in his room reading. Or daydreaming. Just perhaps, your son is needing the downtime when he is between sports seasons.


This is likely hearesy in this forum, but sports can teach many of the same character traits that we want to provide in scouts. There are some lessons/experiences that sports seems to impart better than can be provided in typical scout troops. Things such as teamwork. Scout troops are typically "come when you can.". Compare that type of teamwork in a patrol with "your team depends on you, it needs you, and will suffer if you don't come", that is more typical in a travelling sports league.


Depending on how the team is run, your son's sports can also teach trustworthy, loyal, helpful, etc. Trustworthy - team members have to do their part and pull their weight. The impact is immediately felt by the team if a team member doesn't do his best.

Loyalty - team members have to be at games and practices. It isn't a "come if and when you feel like it" type of loyalty, but a true "your team depends on your presence so you better be there" type of loyalty. Helpful - There is motivation to be helpful to his teammates by helping to teach them some skills.


And it depends on what you like to do. If a scout's Mom or Dad is enthused about the outdoors and camping, that improves the odds that he will also. If the parents are sports fanatics, that will rub off on the son. (Same with music - most kids in the higher level music groups in our town's high school have parents that also participate in music.)


Not sure if this helps, but I hope it helps think through the benefits of various options.


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Thanks for your thoughtful replies.


I realize that number one son is into sports. I want some balance in his life also. Something that isn't "competitive" in nature. Heaven forbid at some point he gets cut from a team. :)

I see the potential that scouting has to offer him! It annoys the heck out of me that he doesn't move on things.


I have enjoyed being a den leader and am currently on the Troop Committee until second son crosses over. Might become ASM if the boys are ok with it. It seems that I have an easier time with 12 nine year olds than I do with 1 6th grader!


Though he has expressed an interest in being a Den Chief for his brother's den. My response was, check it out with your brother and your SM first. I found out when training is scheduled. Might be a way to spark a little interest, definately some leadership options for him.


Appreciate the opportunity to vent.

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I was a fair student and I enjoyed Scouting but I worshiped football. I paid my dues from Junior High on and played "First Team" my Senior year. I obtained Eagle at the end of my sophomore year but few cheered. I graduated close to the bottom of my class. I got to college and shook hands with a guy that in a few years was to become all Pro. I quit my football dreams over that one handshake.


I then struggled with academics until I quit school within the next two years. I worked for a couple of years and found that minimum wage jobs lead me to the same place football had taken me. I moved back to the college town and found a job that paid enough to get me back in school. Four years later, I walked away with a Masters degree and a profession. There was more but it is difficult to put it all into words.


In the meantime, I returned slowly to Scouting.


I could tell you or your son what was/is important but most of us have to find it out the real hard way. FB



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My advice would be to back off, especially if he is just in his first year or so of Scouts. If the troop has a good program, he'll advance. If he needs urging, talk to the adult leaders of the troop--they and the youth leaders can encourage him in ways that he won't resist as much as what comes from you. I suggest that you just encourage him to stay in Scouts and to attend as many meetings and events as he can.

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Hunt, I agree and I am going to try and back off and just cheer him on! Signed up with him to do some cycling trips... hope I can keep up! I mentioned to him last night coming back from the Troop meeting that I wasn't going to "nag" about scouts, but that if he needed any help to let me know.


His response was... "you are totally right to stay on my case, otherwise I won't get stuff done"

I probably could continue to nag and he would put up with it. But, I don't know that that will help him gain any independence. Much better to let other adults nag for me.


I might need the cattle prod instead, to keep my mouth shut! :)

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Agree with Hunt 100% and give props to Fuzzy Bear on laying it all out there....


I see it happening with different Packs and Troops...

once the Webelos parent has crossed over their scout, they continue to entice, encourage and even nag at their scout. Some succumb to the call of the really cool uniform and stay involved which is great, but then you see as many adult tans as you do youth tans and I wonder who the program is all about. The first year is critical for the scout to know that his parent(s) support his involvement, but pushing the program and requirements is typically contrary to the mentality of young men, as is the social impact of the parent joining in a leadership role when the scout needs his space to grow. I would retract this last statement if the Troop NEEDED adult leadership, but I never see the lack of resources in my area for this - typically happens at the Cub level.


Good luck



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I read something useful in a parenting book that I may have mentioned before, but it's relevant here. It reinforces the idea of having young people have adult associations other than their parents--one of the methods of Scouting. The book points out that when a parent talks to a child, it might go like this: "When are you going to finish that merit badge? If you don't do it soon, you won't get Star this year, and then when will you get Life, and remember, you only have until you're 18 to get Eagle--and you really want to get Eagle sooner so it can help you get into college, and if you don't get into a good college, you won't get a good job blah blah blah blahbitty blah blah."


Whereas the adult leader who is not the boy's parent can say, "When do you want to finish that merit badge? I'm available if you want to do it this week."

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I think I am about to hijack my own thread here... You said:


The first year is critical for the scout to know that his parent(s) support his involvement, but pushing the program and requirements is typically contrary to the mentality of young men, as is the social impact of the parent joining in a leadership role when the scout needs his space to grow.


Do you feel that new parents should NOT take a part in the leadership of the program - such as ASM?


Our troop has an excellent SM and probably 3 primary ASM and assorted additional tan shirts that take a lesser role in things. If you discourage new leadership, would that lead to a problem as boys age out, and leaders leave the troop?


In my own case, I am tied up as WDL for younger son, so that is my primary focus. I work on the Troop Committee primarily at BOR. Trying to attend a few events or camp outs so that I can get to know the kids. Would be fine doing merit badges for anything science related. Deliberately did NOT attend summer camp. When younger son crosses over (he is only a Web I) I would like to become more involved at the Troop Level. I am a jr. high teacher.... 13 year olds all day... I like working with kids. Committee work would not be my first choice!


I agree that getting Pack leadership is troublesome. I have considered helping out my Pack as Pack Trainer once younger son crosses over. Could help new leaders without stepping on a bunch of toes.


Just looking for my niche. :)

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Being their for your kids is the best way to live life and I would never condemn parental involvement with your kids, regardless of the activities or roles.


But I do believe that there is a natural inclination to continue leadership roles in your childs life (BSA, sports, academics, etc) for obvious and not so obvious reasons, as your child gets older.


With that said and in my observation, I see the idea of maintaining some type of leadership role in your own child's life, as a self-fulfillment need on behalf of the adult. But I think the answer is more succinct with Hunt's response.


And to answer your question, no, I think that there should be a First Class Badge waiting period for any new leadership positions within a Troop. Once your scout has become First Class, then the adult can join in (gets the practical experience and the BSA mentality part (camp outs, service projects, etc) out of the way instead of learning on the fly). I think we miss viable resources (parents who don't own khaki shirts when their scout first joins) by not enforcing some type of waiting period.


Personally, I became involved with a District that I was critical of previously and that my son no longer belongs to. I now get to work on issues (not necessarily solve) that will help continue the BSA legacy in this District, and hopefully provide a useful resource for years to come. Additionally, I signed up as a Merit Badge Counselor for my sons Troop (resource), but recognized that their are other parents that step in as well as I can. Then with nothing else to do (LOL)I became a Girl Scout leader and will continue that role until another leader steps in or I can no longer maintain my responsibilities to the GSUSA program.



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I recommend the use of the cattle prod but on the lowest of settings. I participated in competitive sports as a child, middle school (as it is now called) high school and college, I cant compete today but Im still in Scouting. Organized sports can be very rewarding, my high school coach taught me many things I cherish today and use as SM but nothing can replace Scouting in a boys life. As long as your unit accepts the fact that boys who play sports can not attend as regularly as those who do not then I say push him to be as involved as is practical. Scouting has things to offer which sports do not and as others have said unless youre good enough to make a living at it sports are time sensitive, Scouting lasts a life time and you get to pass it on!



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