scouts-l Mail Archive for March of 2000: Re: meeting planning concern
Jeffry Smith (jsmith@ALUM.MIT.EDU
Fri Mar 17 2000 - 16:58:01 CST
Jason Cruse <jcruse@SOCKET.NET> wrote:
>My troop is having some problems, and I would like input from the list.
>Off-list replies, as always, are most appropriate.
>Letme spell out the conditions in our troop:
(snip 1 - 5, no problem on rank, you're trying to do the right thing
with PLC, as far as I can see)
>6) Meetings: first half hour is okay. Older set of boys, regardless of
>how many or whch patrols they are in, prefer to goof around with each other.
>This usually degenerates into some form of WWF. Younger boys,
>understandably, are getting little out of the meetings.
Does the troop have standards for behavior? Example, to me, the older
boys don't appear to be showing scout spirit. 1st step would be to
discuss with the older boys WHY they act this way. Related to that
would be a crackdown on behavior (SPL providing discipline, via the
chain of command, although SM /ASM involved). This, in drastic
measures, could include calling parents and having them come pick up
the youth (again, drastic, try and solve with talking first, but
remember that you've got more than just the older youth to worry
Something I've seen work is to have the troop as a whole (through the
PLC / SPL) sit down and help develop a "code of conduct" for the
troop: this is how we want ourselves to behave. This is what will
happen if we don't. Then, write it up, get them to vote on it, and
sign it. Make it a part of discipline.
>7) Attitudes: older boys actually have a decent attitude about
>attending...don't attend many activities or campouts. But they still
>recruit friends...and the friends are marginally interested until the
>"old-timer" boys are such a distraction that the friends stop coming.
>Younger boys are frustrated, or get drawn into the horseplay.
OK, they're interested in attending. Why (ask them)? They're not
interested in activities or campouts - why? What would make them
interested? Scoutmaster's conference time (you can do it at times
besides rank advancement, this seems like a good time). Or are they
interested in attending (or are we being used as Baby Sitters of
America, and they're getting their friends to come along for company /
friends parents using us as baby sitters)?
>As I see it, we have two main problems: a leadership vacuum and no interest
>in scouting activities. Older boys have no interest in venturing. Little
>interest in anything. If something "different" is proposed, they will try
>it...for a few minutes. Then they revert to wrestling.
Again, why? Talk to them first. Why do they come to meetings? What
is interesting them enough to come, or are they being dropped off with
no choice (yes, I've seen it, "BSA stands for Baby Sitters of
America"). If it's the latter, you have a problem with the parents
that needs to be addressed.
>It does not appear to matter who, or how old, the SPL is...he is unable to
>lead or get anything accomplished. The older group thinks its funny to
>screw up the program, regardless of who leads, even when they themselves try
Does the SPL enforce discipline? Does the adult leadership back him?
Does the troop have a "code of conduct" that the youth agree with?
Does the SM talk to the youth as a part of discipline?
>I'm not at all sure that I'm explaining this well, unless, of course,
>frustration is the point. Clearly, the belief of letting the PLC run the
>show, make mistakes, and so forth, is no longer relevant. That plan, of
>course, works--when the PLC is interested in learning. This problem is not
>new--it is old in our troop. We have tried multiple combinations of boys in
>patrols and PLs and SPLs... each has been more interested in screwing up
>the new leader...and fighting and wrestling...than working on
>anything--whether it is advancement-related or not.
Out of curiosity, how are the elections run - who can run and is it a
>To be honest, I don't know why some of them come. Neither do they. All
>they can say is that it is "fun"...but can't pick anything scouting that
Why is it fun? What aspects do they enjoy? Do they enjoy the way
meetings are going? Do they believe they're showing scout spirit? Do
they think what they are doing is right? What do they think could be
done to improve the meetings?
If, in fact, there isn't anything scouting that they like, maybe they
shouldn't be in scouting (unfortunately, scouting isn't for everyone,
much as I wish it was. But, don't take that as the easy answer, first
make certain that there is no other answer). Again, talk to the
parents, find out why they bring the youth to scouts? Did the youth
request it? Do they think we are Baby Sitters of America? "I was an
Eagle, and my boy is going to be an Eagle, I don't care what he
wants!" (yep, heard that.)
I hope it doesn't come down to it, but I have had the unfortunate
experience of having to call parents to have them pick up their youth
(even from campouts). When that happened, we followed it with a
committee meeting with the parents and youth to discuss the issue. I
also held a scoutmaster's conference with the youth. I also heard for
2 years afterwards youth telling new scouts "you know that rule in the
code about they can call your parents? They DO!"
hope the above helps.
ASM, Troop 173
Hanscom AFB, MA
I used to be a Fox (Knotty Italian Foxes, @3-803-92)
Always, a Bicentennial Eagle