Re: Advancement Pressure
settummanque, or blackeagle (blkeagle@DYNASTY.NET)
Thu, 24 Jul 1997 18:23:30 -0500
Steve Conlon asked:
>What is a reasonable time frame to advance to Eagle for a new scout?
Not to be flippant, Steve, but "It depends on the Scout, the Troop, the
parents, and the Scoutmaster".
The BSA's requirements have been "wetted downward" (not "watered down", but
much has been re-written to allow that 12 or 13 year old a better chance of
meeting them using today's abilities and skills) so that within a short
time, most Scouts earning Eagle are either in the ninth grade or getting
ready for their second year of high school.
Lots of Scouts have grown up with the idea of "get it now, get it over
with", which started when they were Cub Scouts or in Little League. There
is a higher expectation from Scouts that once I get into this stuff, it
shouldn't take me long to finish this up so that I can do other things.
Lots of other Scouts simply are there because Scouting's fun, and they can't
believe that if they go to a campout, they get a patch and credit toward a
rank. The Scouting program is designed to allow each and every Scout to
progress at their own rate and speed toward whatever they wish to acheive.
The parents have two or maybe three expectations of Scouting: the biggest
is to have THEIR SON to get to "the higher ranks", whatever that is. Some
parents will actually lobby to get their son a Patrol leadership position,
and then rail at the Scout because his Patrol is meeting at their hom and
"wrecking the place"; or because every time they turn around, he has to do
something "with the Scouts". I had one parent to call me up and simply
demand that I "tell his son not to go to so many Scout events".
Most parents don't understand the concept that Scouting is a game. They see
Scouting like they see school: the kid goes to Scouts, learn something, get
a "grade" (in the form of a badge, card, or a checkoff in a book) and when
those things don't happen, they come running asking how come. When I
confront them and inform them that Scouting progress is completely UP TO THE
SCOUT, it never fails that the next question is "Why are we sending him to
those meetings, then?? Why can't he just stay home and do this stuff with
us?" Then, I open up the Scout Handbook, show the parents the places where
the Scout has to "demonstrate", "teach", and "working with a group of other
Scouts" and they understand.
That is, until they understand (or think they understand) the importance of
Eagle. Presidents and astronauts are Eagle Scouts. Actors are Eagle
Scouts. The head of the bank is an Eagle Scout. I want MY SON to become an
Eagle Scout, even though I have no clue as to what "Eagle Scout" really is
or why it's so important. So, they tell their son that they are going to be
Eagle Scouts, and together in one of many methods, they work toward their
son becoming an Eagle Scout.
Most parents understand that Scouting, like school, needs to be done by the
Scout with little or no intervention by the parents. Some parents didn't
"get the memo" that tells them this very important aspect of Scouting.
Those are the ones we talk about here and over lunch or coffee while working
on resolutions and plans to resolve it.
I can go on and on about Scoutmasters. EVERY SCOUTMASTER wants to be known
as "Eagle Scout Homer Pyle's Scoutmaster". We all see ourselves in the
Rockwellan image, proudly presenting the Eagle to the parents for
presentation to the Scout. That's how I see myself, and I'm no different
than any other Scouter out there.... We will do just about anything possible
to get our Scouts toward Eagle, and afterwards to keep them hanging around
so that they can be useful to us (and reduce our workload).
The only problem is, we've got a lot of Scouts that don't care "dookey"
about Eagle; they are there for the fun and excitement and friendship of
Scouting, and when we approach them, it's like "Hey, dude, stop pressuring
me...I'll get there when I get there!"
Perhaps during Scoutmaster Fundamentals, we should teach Scoutmasters and
their Assistants to "let things happen as they should" and emphasize that
their "goals in life" is to get Scouts to First Class or to Life. "If the
Scout wants to get to Eagle, he'll get there and ask you; otherwise, stop
putting the clamps on them and concentrate on those other Scouts that are
still Second Class or Tenderfoot. Provide a good umbrella for your youth
leaders to do a good program."
Maybe we need to hire Joe Cstari to make a modern version of the Rockwell
painting featuring the parents pinning on the First Class Badge to the
Scout, with the Scoutmaster and Senior Patrol Leader looking on.
This is what I wrote to Jim Lade earlier regarding this:
James Lade asked:
>I am curious to ask what kinds of external (or internal?) factors
>contribute to the drop in the number of scouts who continue scouts after
>First Class. It seems the boys either stay at that rank, drop from
>scouts, advance slowly, or quickly advance.
At the top of the list, I would place:
Lack of quality program
Lack of program period
Inability of unit to work/coach Scouts toward Eagle
"I don't care" attitude caused by unit not emphasizing what Eagle is all about
(yeah, I'm laying it on the unit, James...not the Scout. The Scoutmaster,
Troop Committee and older Scouts all play important parts in developing
and motivating Scouts from First Class toward Eagle. It's not just the kid.
Eagle, for the most part, requires a lot of personal effort. If the kid
doesn't see that his personal effort coupled with the unit's willingness to
"back him" during his progress helped, he'll soon give up and find other
things that he'll get that positive feedback from -- from peers and friends
In all of those other factors, I've seen lots of Scouts make it from First
Class to Star, Life and some to Eagle despite them. What made the
difference was the fact that the unit had a quality program, that they had a
program based on what the Scouts wanted to do and can do, and that the
adults involved were there for the Scouts, were trained and coached in their
roles, and that they allowed each Scout going toward the higher ranks to "do
their own thing" and to monitor and encourage their progres individually and
within the "larger group" (the Troop).
They also did NOT discourage the girlfriend, the car, the job, the work, nor
the sport skills....they encouraged those things and worked with the Scout
to see if he can combine his willingness to "go out for the team" with a Boy
Scout merit badge (Athletics, Sports), to date (Family Life, Public Health,
Personal Fitness), to work at a job (pick a vocational MB), to do things for
others (not a merit badge, but perhaps the start of a service project) to
the car (Traffic Safety).
It all goes back to the key word of PROGRAM. Scouts will stick around for
it, support it, and encourage others to come along with them if it's a good
program, one in which they have a lot of say in and that challenges and
gives them some enjoyment....and hey, if they happen to just earn something
out of it, that's cool too.
(c) 1997 Mike Walton ("no such thing as strong coffee,...") (502) 827-9201
(settummanque, the blackeagle) http://dynasty.net/users/blkeagle
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