scouts-l Mail Archive for April of 2000: Re: How to "Shape Up Troop"?
Ed Thompson (thompson@VAX2.WINONA.MSUS.EDU
Wed Apr 05 2000 - 11:28:55 CDT
At 09:35 PM 4/4/00 -0500, Kris Swank wrote:
>My husband took over as Scoutmaster of a small town troop that has been
>said was always a "maverick"....
>They didn't do District events or go to summer camp....
>They did the same thing over and over at Troop meetings...
>Scoutmaster would cancel campouts if there was even a strong
>prediction of rain....
>very wet campout ... the boys complained bitterly.
>When he tries to teach the Spl and Patrol...
>The boys want to make campouts into hazing and play time.
>There were complaints that they couldn't spend the whole time
>fishing and puttering around in the canoes. They don't want to cook and
>do KP, They want to play War, complete with tying up captured enemy and
>drop tents on each other (the tying and dropping both expressly
>verboten). At Troop meetings it is very hard to keep most of the boys
>attention or keep them on task.
I see both good and bad here. A troop obviously can't function without
structure and order to some degree and hazing needs to be stopped, but a lot
of what you describe is normal, healthy adolescent behavior. I certainly
wouldn't want to be part of a troop that spent most of its time on "scout
skills", either, so it's no surprise that kids leave. If you look at the
troops that manage to keep the kids you will see one common feature: they
are having fun and feel like they are gaining something they want.
Sometimes they have to learn the "fun" of some things (e.g. camping in the
rain, or winter camping) but most of them will do so if given the opportunity.
For goodness sake: take them on a couple of campouts where they DO spend the
whole time fishing and "puttering around in canoes" (with proper safety
concerns, of course) - nothing else expected this time. On campouts LET
them play War - you and your husband might even want to join them (it's
tiring, but fun) - with a few restrictions about dropping tents etc. If you
aren't keeping their attention at troop meetings then something is wrong -
they are getting bored. Make troop time fun. If it rains at a campout,
gather everyone together under the rain fly and feed them chocolate, or, if
it is a warm rain, join them in a mud fight. If they don't like cooking,
help them arrange a few campouts where everything is easy-fix / out of the
bag. I'll bet that pretty quickly you will see them being a lot more
cooperative in other troop activities. Plus, by being cooperative you
retain a lot of control to prevent the abuses and it is much easier to keep
them "on task" for the things which DO need to get done.
The real value of scouting is the day-to-day mixing with other healthy kids
where we can model and emphasize positive attitudes. It isn't knowing how
to tie knots, cook a three course dinner in a dutch oven, do a perfect
J-stroke across the lake, or earning Eagle rank. These are boys we are
serving, with normal high energy and short attention spans. We can't serve
them if we we can't keep them involved.
Pack 6 and Troop 6
Ed's witty saying for this week:
"I didn't say it was your fault. I said I was going to blame you."