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Dumbed down? Why the rush?

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>>What troubles me is that more scouts would have liked to have skipped the first year program and actually do something...perhaps they didn't know they could say no. Or they tried and it was disapproved. Very sad.

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Barry, very interesting, a few thoughts if you please:


- "The program is the program"--perhaps in town, at the troop meeting, but I respectfully submit the draw of summer camp (for me, as a scout in the '70s, and the ideal I encouraged as a scouter in the '80s) was that the scout charted his own program at camp. Pursued the badges he wished, went to open swim every day, etc. As long as no rules were broken and the mandatory formations attended (meals, reveille, retreat, taps),fellow scouts could roam the camp at will.


Were there missed opportunities for advancement? For me, yes, but none I regret or didn't make up in future camps. For the scouts in my troop, I believe they would say the same.


It was a wonderful break from the lockstep programming of in-town scouting.


- I was ending my tenure as an ASM in '90, and remember the program transition. I think you described it well. Yes, I think the movement lost something. I'd rather advocate advancement in-town than at camp. If camp is about advancement these days, then what is in-town scouting about--more advancement? Seems like drudgery, year round.


The scouts that wish to advance will finds ways to do so. Perhaps the timeline and method may seem a bit hit/miss to the adults observing, but the scouts will earn Eagle their way, and not by mandate. I think there is a difference. And for those who don't wish to advance, that's fine too. I meet former scouts all the time that didn't make it past Star, but have very fond memories of backpacking, making a terrible cobbler first time out, etc. I think they are better representatives of the BSA than the lockstep Eagle. I'll give the latter bonus points for pushing thru the monotony, but that's a tough way to go.

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The quality of scouting is directly related to the ADULT leadership.


If the SM and ASM's hold the youth to consistently meeting the advancement standards.


While the program is boy led..... Advancement is over seen by the adults thru Scout master conferences, and Board of reviews. I know that we have spoken too the SPL and PL about some questionable sign offs.


Far as First Class in a weekend....it is completely ridiculous and a misapplication of the program. I do not like the trail to first class or eagle summer camp programs.


I would like to see a change in advancement....to make first class a minimum age, just like high adventure......14 minimum.......just saying maybe 9 months as scout, 9 months as tenderfoot 9 months at second class. This would let the scout have fun and just enjoy scouting with out the huge push on advancement.




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I'm sure someone else has already said it, but:

I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words... When I was young, we were taught to be discreet and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly [disrespectful] and impatient of restraint.

People have been complaining that the youth of "today" just aren't as good as we were, or as our parents were, or as people were in more distant times, for almost three thousand years now. I think most of us just don't remember that (by and large) we weren't that much better than the kids coming through now. Anyway, as I understand it the general goal is to get people to first class within a year of joining Boy Scouts. This is a good schedule: http://www.boyscouttrail.com/boy-scouts/1st-scout-schedule.asp Boys who reach First Class within a year are, according to National's stats, far more likely to continue in Scouting (both on to further ranks in Scouting and also to continue later on as adult volunteers).


I do think some things have become easier, that we don't "trust" the boys enough to do some activities that we used to allow. Boys Life magazines from the 50's had advertisements for tires for the motorcycles that boys apparently had back then, there were ads for ammo and guns. I don't think the changes in things like that are due to Scouting, though, that's just our society.

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Bart, I think your message is correct. I'll take off my black hat now and replace it with a white one....my observations of youth today indicate some of the most sincere, hard-working, and intelligent youth I've ever seen. I think that we all form our 'view' based on a rather limited sample of the overall population and woe to anyone who bases that 'sample' on what they see in the media.

So for every view based on that segment of youth who do not perform up to our expectations, I think I can show large numbers of youth whose outlook is bright, optimistic, and expect to do the hard work for the future. In short, they will become the leaders and for the most part, I think they're as good as we were, probably better.


P.S. if you're thinking about those Carlisle Tire commercials in Boys Life, I think I remember those were for bicycles. They were almost as big as motorcycle tires though. Remember the Buster Brown shoes?

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It seems to me that one of the biggest problems, which has been discussed, is the lack of scouting skills.


I think a symptom of this problem is the feeling by leaders of a need to teach everything as if we are in a classroom environment. Then since the young man as sat through the instruction we pass them off on the requirement. Always overlooking the important words such as demonstrate, show to your __ satisfaction, or do, part of the requirement.


Another symptom is the tendency for camporees to be places of learning and teaching and not showing off skills. Camporees have always been place of competition where patrols competed against other patrols to see who is the best at particular skills. Camporees are not the place to teach skills its the place for scouts to show they know their stuff.


So the solution is to make sure your district camporees are competitions not skill learning events.

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"So the solution is to make sure your district camporees are competitions not skill learning events"

Sounds great!


Not a lot of fun for the Scouts who don't have the skills to compete.


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This has been discussed before, even under a different title. I remember discussing Eagle Scouts that barely meet the requirements, and some of the people lamenting the problems here were very quick to point out that if the Scout meets the requirements, he gets the award.


I have found that setting a high bar solves most of these problems. We have a challenging program, and we attract a lot of Scouts. Knots? There are 10 knots a Scout needs to learn (Troop program here, not BSA advancement). First, learn to tie them on demand. Second phase, be able to tie them behind your back. Third phase, with a blindfold on, the Scout is handed a rope with a knot tied; he has to figure out what knot it is, untie it and re-tie it. This is just one example - you can ramp up your program on any of the skills.


If you read "Rocks in My Backpack" you will read about the long-term SM and the annual 100 question/skills test that each Scout in their Troop had to pass each year. Not for rank advancement, but to be a member of the Troop and be able to go on camping trips. Passing grade was 75%; if a Scout didn't pass, he took it again and had to make 80%. I'm modernizing it, and we are going to start it in January. I think the real benefit will be seeing areas where lots of Scouts miss questions or can't do the skills - those will be areas we need to work on.


We push High Adventure, and use it to promote the program. Want to go to Philmont? The Scout must have at least 30 miles of backpacking experience with the Troop one year before the Trek to be eligible. He'll most likely add another 50 miles of experience in the year leading up to the Trek, through shake-down and prep backpacking trips. Priority for HA is based on age, rank and experience (nights camping, related MBs, etc.)


We push NYLT and Summer Camp. Our Scouts don't go to either HA or Summer Camp - they go to both. We've had Scouts go to NYLT, HA and Summer Camp all in one summer. Our oldest Scouts are 15 years old, and most of them have been to NYLT, attended 5 Summer Camps, and 3 High Adventure bases. They are all finally getting to go to Philmont next summer. We are already discussing what they want to do in 2013, their last opportunity for HA as Boy Scouts.


At our COH last week, we announced a new award - The Centennial Camper - for 100 nights camping. Two Scouts have hit that number, and a handful are right behind them. They are recognized at the COH and their name goes on a special plaque. Same for Scouts who reach 100 miles hiking/backpacking. We will put together another for 200 miles, as some of these Scouts will reach that in another year or so.


My first two years as SM, I took the check-off sheet from the First Year Summer Camp program and gave credit to the Scouts without reviewing or re-checking. After awhile, that mistake showed up in our program - the boys couldn't do the skills. So, I changed things and told the next group of new parents why I was making the change. One mom complained, and wanted to know why I was making things harder for her sons (twins). I explained what had happened, but she just wouldn't buy into it. They are no longer with the Troop, or in Scouts. I'd rather lose a few than lower the bar and lose a lot. At 48 Scouts, we aren't hurting for members.


The highest honor a Scout can earn in our Troop is not Eagle. It will be an award given to the Scouts who are active until their 18th birthday, regardless of whether they earned Eagle or not.


Finally, something I tell all our parents: If we have a service project coming up, and your son says he doesn't want to participate because he already has hours for his next rank, this isn't the right Troop for him. If he doesn't want to go on a camping trip just because we have been there before, this isn't the right Troop for him. Every outing is an adventure and an opportunity to learn and/or teach.

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Eamonn "But...Not a lot of fun for the Scouts who don't have the skills to compete."


I don't know what to say except "so sad, to bad"


However, it been my experience that in a truly boy ran and lead troop they only look foolish once. After that the program will be changed (by the boys themselves) to a scout skill based program focused on getting ready to kick some butt at the next camporee.


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I agree that it's a sad state of affairs.

I'm not so sure about Troops that fail when it comes to basic skills not failing when it also comes to using the methods?

I also know a lot of kids who once they get their butts kicked are just willing to throw in the towel and leave it at that.

Not all but some kids!

I'm willing to bet that if the District Camporees that our District has were all about Scout Skill Competitions the same Troop would always win time after time.

Mainly because the adults in that Troop have the skills and have found ways of passing them on and allow Scouts opportunities to use them.

Some Troops rely on District events as being their entire outdoor program and if the Scouts don't get the opportunity to learn needed skills at these events, then the opportunity is lost.


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I have seen some boys with low self esteem really get discouraged when they get shown up at these things. Also some with disabilities. So I wouldn't want to write them off as "too bad, so sad". These are the guys we really need to reach. Need to work with them more (and their Patrol's to help them learn as well)

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FCFY is a great thing to preach until it's your son who decides to take 4 years to earn FC!


I think a troop should provide opportunities to excersize each FC skill at least once every year. That includes but need not be limited to camporees and competitions.


I think being honest with a scout who has a disability about his disadvantages in a particular skill is the best way to go. They and their patrol can sometimes surprise you. That's not the same as "too bad, so sad", but it is a little different than an "it's okay if you can't ..."


By the same token, getting a waiver for a requirement needs agreement by the youth as well as his parent. And, my experience is that a boy will grudgingly agree to a waiver only after his doctor identifies a life-threatening physical impedement.


Brent, I agree that HA should be in addition to -- not instead of -- summer camp. We definitely have that attitude of "show me the skills" and "best scout = the one who's always scouting", but I'm not sure my SM and I have the mental capacity to keep track of all those achievments!

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