Scouts-L Mail Archive for October of 1998: First Class/First Year or bust (was retest at SM conf)
First Class/First Year or bust (was retest at SM conf)
Tue, 13 Oct 1998 10:19:24 -0400
Robert Losee <rlosee@UNLINFO.UNL.EDU> wrote:
[lots of good stuff about rushing to first class deleted]
I know that in my Council, the lack of advancement in a timely manner is cause
for concern. First Class/First Year, is the rallying cry at many events. As I
understand it, this is a direct result of a survey, or statistics, or figures,
whatever you want to call it, that showed a historical trend where boys who
made it to First Class in the first year had a higher retention rate than boys
who did not. It would not surprise me to see Council or District level
incentives based on the number of Scouts who advanced in a given period based
on the "interest" from the District and Council in advancement reports for my boys.
I see two possible reasons for this higher retention that only loosely tie to
First Class/First Year. The programs that were advancing boys to First Class
in the first year were probably more interesting than those programs were
advancement was slower, and the boys who advanced quickly were having fun and
more serious about Scouting that the boys who were not. In both cases, the
exciting program kept boys, and the driven Scouts tended to stay anyway.
Focusing on First Class in a year as the factor that keeps boys in Scouting is
a double-edged sword. You can pass the boys without them learning, so that
they make it to First Class in a year come #%!! or high water, or you can put
a program together that - given a Scout's participation - practically
guarantees he will learn, and advance, in his first year.
If other units are put under the same pressure I've seen here for advancement,
I can see how the boys could be passed without actually learning a skill, just
to get to First Class in a year. I've been more strict than I've seen other
troops for skill signoff, and I've taken some heat for it - both from the boys
and from some leader.
Summer camp pressure for advancement is another story. Too many leaders see
summer camp as a merit badge and advancement mill, and expect major results.
I'm not sure how to change this one.
Tim Hewitt, Scoutmaster
Troop 350, Old Orchard Beach, Maine