scouts-l Mail Archive for March of 2000: Re: When should Webelos get their cross over ceremony?
Peter Farnham (pfarnham@ASBMB.FASEB.ORG
Thu Mar 02 2000 - 13:17:06 CST
Katherine Coates' comments on this question raise some issues I'd like to
talk about a little, from the perspective of someone who has served as a CM
and is currently a SM.
I've received boys into my troop in May of their 4th grade year (yes, it's
possible; this isn't the issue I'm discussing here), and at a variety of
times during their 5th grade year, including November, February, and May.
In almost every case, the crossover occurred on the very same evening that
the scout earned the AOL.
I have come to the conclusion that this is in general a lousy occasion to
cross the boys over. Here's my reasoning.
1. The webelos scout benefits enormously by having a few months in his cub
pack as the "top dog". It allows the webelos to begin to spend time in a
leadership position, which helps prepare him for the boy scouts, where,
obviously, leadership is stressed. This time spent as a leader in the cub
pack is lost completely if the scout crosses over the very night he earns
AOL. He starts over again the next day in a boy scout troop as the lowest
person on the totem pole, and thus has to wait until he's been in the troop
for some period of time before he becomes one of the troop leaders. Most
of the boys in senior leadership positions in my troop now have been with
us for 2-3 years.
2. The additional 4-6 months spent in the pack also allow the kid to
mature more. 4-6 months may not seem like it makes a lot of difference,
but in a 10-year-old it is a large percentage of time. 6 months does make a
big difference in a kid this age.
3. I've noticed, quite frankly, that a lot of the boys cross over to boy
scouts immediately upon earning AOL not necessarily because THEY want to,
but because the WDLs have in many cases reached burnout after 3 1/2 years
of working with the den. Believe me, I can understand this--DL is probably
one of the toughest jobs in scouting, and I can certainly understand a
tired WDL's eagnerness to pass the boys along to the next level. But if a
webelos isn't enthusiastic about crossing over, he shouldn't have to do so
because the WDL is burned out.
4. It has been my experience as SM that there is no clear higher retention
rate among boys who cross over the night they earn their AOL than over
other boys. We also get boys into the troop who have never been cub
scouts, and they seem to do just as well if not better.
5. The supposed advantage of having the boys be in the troop a couple of
extra months in order to better prepare them for summer camp is often
overshadowed by the lack of maturity and unreadiness of a 10-year-old to
function in a scout troop, particularly if he was crossed over to suit the
convenience of the WDL. I had a den of kids who had finished 4th grade, all
of whom had earned their AoL, join my unit last spring. Of the seven
involved, only three are still active and enthusiastic. 3 have dropped out,
and 1 isn't advancing and probably won't reup. This is a far higher
attrition rate than among boys who join later in their BSA careers (i.e.,
in the spring of their 5th grade year). In retrospect, I probably
shouldn't have accepted them (although it was clear that if I hadn't, the
parents would have put them into a troop that would accept them).
6. Bottom line--there is a reason the chronological age test is eleven, or
at a minimum, completion of the 5th grade, for joining the BSA. A
crossover of a kid at any chronological point earlier than that is not
necessarily in the best interests of the scout, or of the troop, which has
to deal with the greater immaturity problems such boys frequently (usually)
The only occasion when I don't have some reluctance about crossing over a
kid the very night he earns his AOL is if it's late spring of the kid's 5th
grade year, or he's going to be eleven very shortly. I accept them earlier,
mind you, but I always talk to the parents about it--so far, without a
whole lot of success.
Anyway, no intention to beat up on Ms. Coates--just to state an alternate
point of view on this issue.
SM, Troop 113