Scouts-L Mail Archive for June of 1999: Re: Needed-Voices of Experience (longish)
Re: Needed-Voices of Experience (longish)
Tue, 29 Jun 1999 13:25:13 EDT
In a message dated 6/29/99 5:55:19 AM, apfelsta@SOLTEC.NET writes:
<<I am proud of both of them, but was somewhat embarrassed
>tonight because we gave a First Class to a thirteen year old boy who was
>very proud of his accomplishment. >>
There have been some excellent posts in response to this original message.
Most of my thoughts were said by others, but I did have a couple which were
1) The suggestion that the thirteen year old boy should not be proud of
his accomplishment of earning First Class or that his leaders should not be
proud because some eleven or twelve year old boy was receiving the Star Scout
award is troubling to me. I believe that the Scout Oath starts "I will do MY
best" Not someone else's best. The thirteen year old should be proud. He
is a First Class Scout. That's pretty special.
As we probably need to repeat rather frequently, advancement is only one of
eight methods of Scouting. The fact that one boy holds a higher rank than
another does not mean that he is a "better" Scout (whatever that means.) It
just means that he has paid more attention to that particular one of the
2) I am probably sounding like an old (which I am) curmugeon (which I am
becoming) in this next paragraph, but while the objective requirements for
advancement are not that much different now than they were in the past, the
assistance given to a Scout in meeting those requirements is wildly
different. We had one Troop merit badge class in my 7 years as a Scout in
the Troop and that was for Railroading run by a local railroad. You could
try for a maximum of 3 merit badges in any week at summer camp and to earn
two was a BIG accomplishment. Now, parents and Scouts expect merit badge
classes at Troop meetings and merit badge concentration at summer camp where
I have heard of between 5 and 10 merit badges being earned in a week.
There were a number of merit badges which I would have liked to earn but my
first questions always were "How can I make the arrangements for this? How
and where can I do what is needed? How can I arrange to find and get to the
counselor, etc." Making those arrangements was part of the merit badge
program and part of the growth and learning experience.
It is one thing to say "The requirement is to swim 50 yards". It is another
thing entirely to say "The requirement is to swim 50 yards. The troop will
loan you a bathing suit. We have made arrangements for a swimming pool on
XXX date and we will provide you a ride to get there. We will provide
swimming lessons to teach you how to swim and there will be several experts
there to test you on the 50 yard swim. If you don't pass the first time, we
will be going again the following week and you can try again then."
So one way to increase the growth experience for Scouts is to increase the
portion of the merit badge program which they personally must arrange. This
is not slowing the boy down. It rather is requiring that HE do the work of
preparation rather than having all of the preparation done by someone else.
3) However, there is the continuing pressure to put the Eagle award on
some kind of super pedestal relative to other Scouting experiences. While
the Eagle is very special, so is Scouting itself and many other parts of it.
I would rather have a boy earn the Eagle and have his continuing experiences
be as an Eagle Scout than have some ultra high barriers put up, particularly
at the level of the EAgle project, which cause the boy to say "this will take
me years." It's not supposed to take years.
4) We should remember that a boy who has started out as a Tiger Cub has
had FIVE YEARS (almost half his life) in our movement before he ever becomes
a Boy Scout. Is it surprising that he knows the ropes, likes the ropes and
knows how to move quickly. That isn't bad, but again, the Oath states that a
boy must do HIS best. For a boy who already starts at a high level of
knowledge and performance, his best is an objectively higher standard of
Scout Spirit than a boy with no prior experience.
Creating a unique, proper, challenging experience for each boy is one of the
toughest responsibilities which a leader faces. It is directly opposed to
"Corporate Scouting." It is a tremendous challenge to respond to
"requirements- no more and no less" and still be unique to each boy. But it
is doable if a leader truly understands the requirements well and uses
advancement as a method rather than as an end in itself.
5) If your sons are having fun, if they are growing, if they are
excited, if they continue to look forward to each meeting and each campout,
if they are challenged and consider Scouting tough, but doable, then they are
in great shape. If they start to think "Wow, this is really difficult and I
don't think that I'll ever get there" or on the other side, "Gee, it sure
is easy to get all these badges but I'm not learning much and it is a bit
boring.", then it is time to recalibrate and readjust a bit.