Don Tolin (dont@TRIB.COM)
Mon, 18 Sep 1995 23:10:54 -0600
This is in response to Paul Brown's situation with troop changes that
segregate the scouts in their activities planned by the adults. I apologize
in advance for the length of this post. I've set back, biting my lip, but
I've decided to be silent no longer. (My Wood Badge enthusiasm!) If this
post keeps just one boy in scouting, the message was worth the bandwidth.
Hopefully, it will keep at least one troop from making what could be a fatal
Our Troop is fortunate to now have four Wood Badge Trained leaders from one
training course this summer. The first thing we did when we returned home,
was to return the Troop to the boys!!!
We had a committee meeting/BBQ on the Monday we returned from the course to
let the rest of our committee and spouses know what was going on. We also
brought our SPL, our ASPL, and our Troop Scribe to the committee meeting.
The following night, we had a troop meeting and emphasized to the boys that
from now on, our Troop was going to be boy run, adult supervised. In the
past, our committee did all of the planning of the activities and scheduling
without any input from the boys. Now, the boys plan the meeting/activity at
the meeting prior to it, alternating patrols between program and service.
Before they go home, the PLC meets to review the plans for the next meeting.
Thirty minutes before the start of the next meeting, the SM meets with the
SPL to go over plans and any new topics or items that need to be discussed
that night. Fifteen minutes prior to the meeting, the PLC meets with the SM
and ASM's to go over the meeting. When we're done, the SM and ASM's sit back
and wait for the boys to start the meeting. The first night, it took them
five minutes to figure out that we weren't going to tell them when to start.
Since then, they know when to start. It's been a little rough, but each
meeting gets better.
As to activities, we have allowed them to plan and execute setting up our
camp by patrols and building a gateway at our Council's 75th Anniversay
camporee. The adults helped when needed, but we really worked with the boys
by encouraging them to make decisions as patrols and as a troop. It was a
little awkward at times, and things took a little longer to get done, but
overall, it worked great!
The next weekend was Labor day weekend. We backpacked 7-1/2 miles in on a
pack trail through a wilderness area with full backpacks, set up a
"no-impact" camp, and then hiked the following day with day backs an
equivalent of 10 miles up to the top of a 13,167 foot peak, and then
returned 10 miles to our base camp, 3,000 feet below. The kids had a great
time, as for most of them it was their first experience in high altitude
backpacking and hiking. The three adults were all over forty, and the boys
ranged from seventh graders to twelth graders, most of them being at the
younger end, with one of our JASM's as a Sophomore and one as a Senior in
High School. We all worked together, and the older scouts helped and
encouraged the younger scouts, and visa-versa.
The actual youngest on the expedition was my 10-1/2 year old Webelos son,
who also caught his first fish ever that weekend. He would not have been
there had he not felt prepared and ready to make the hike, and if I or my
wife had any doubt as to his capabilities to safely complete the activity.
He will cross-over to the troop at the end of this month. His enthusiasm and
excitement for scouting hasn't diminished as a result of his involvement
with his brother's troop. In fact, as a direct result of his recruiting
talks at each of the first grade classes last week, our Cub Scout Pack now
has 6 new tiger cubs, with four more possible prospects.
I understand the rationale that some have for separating the age groups, but
I totally disagree with it. The experiences shared as a troop, because of
the age differences and differing abilities, made those experiences even
more meaningful, a once-in-a-lifetime adventure for all. The boys all
learned, they all grew, they are all a little closer now. They did it, and
that's how it should be. Those of the troop that chose not to go, stayed home.
My 12 year old son has his Star Rank and is now the ASPL. I can't imagine
him being in a troop that limits the outings to 14-15 year olds. Our troop
would slowly die without the younger scouts, and eventually there would be
no 14-15 year old scouts to go on the "outings." When my son first joined
the pack, several outings were cancelled because of a lack of parental
support. Several of his friends who started with him as Tiger Cubs, dropped
out of our Boy Scout Troop within six months because of the lack of outings
and because all they did at each meeting was work on merit badges indoors
each Tuesday night. We lost-they lost. At the beginning of the year we
changed SM's and I became an ASM. We haven't cancelled an outing yet, and
have had one every month since then. Last weekend was the first weekend that
we haven't had some scouting activity since the beginning of summer.
Boy run programs may not be as organized, as smooth, or as "perfect" in the
beginning, as those run by adults; but how will they ever learn, if adults
continue do it all for the boys. IMHO, whatever you do, don't take the
outing out of scouting for the younger boys!!! Also, don't take away the
opportunities for older scouts to learn to be effective leaders and role
models for the younger scouts who will soon grow up to be older scouts and
Don Tolin, Casper, Wyoming, USA, ASM[Trained], Boy Scout Troop 60,
Boy Scout Roundtable Commissioner[Trained], CR and MC[Trained], Cub Scout
Pack 30, Riverbend District, Central Wyoming Council, BSA
"I used to be a beaver..." W5-638-95
E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org WWW: http://w3.trib.com/~dont/
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City