scouts-l Mail Archive for July of 2000: Re: High Adv. Question--long reply
Jason Cruse (jcruse@SOCKET.NET
Thu Jun 29 2000 - 08:37:01 CDT
>Last time the troop was smaller and the line between those boys eligible to
>go by virtue of age, rank and experience, was well defined. there was a
>natural and indisputable cadre of boys who were eligible by virtue of all
>the measures. However there was one boy who lagged far behind in everything
>except age. In fact he was the only boy of his age not eligible to go. In
>addition he was a boy who was a discipline problem at times and
>unpredictable always. You get the picture.
Our troop and crew have done some of these things in the past, both when I
was a youth and since I have been scoutmaster and venture leader. At Bob's
request, I will share some thoughts.
First, from just the information presented, I can understand how the parents
were concerned. It *could* have seemed arbitrary to them. We are very
careful in our troop to make certain that there are rules and guidelines in
place for participation in high adventure. So, lagging behind, by itself,
wouldn't pose a problem in our troop, if the rule was simply "complete these
Similarly, the rule shouldn't be "complete in a set period of time," for
then the activity becomes a race.
Now, behavior is another matter. I have cancelled an entire trip in the
past because of bad behavior prior to trip. I have had youth wish to go on
these sorts of trips whose behavior was suspect; only be pleased and
surprised on the trip at how well they behave. Behavior is a wild card; it
really can't be predicted. It is also the one "out" you have as a leader,
if there is a boy you are concerned about. However, it is also the easiest
rule to misapply. If a youth is going to be excluded because of behavior,
you had better be darn sure that no one else in the troop even comes close
to that young person's behavior, or the youth and the parents will have a
cow...and in some ways, rightly so.
All of that said, if I think a young man should not go for behavioral
reasons, I have a talk with the parents well in advance, and let them know t
hat their son is in danger of not going. This gives an opportunity for
change. I let them know that if he does go, he can be booted at the last
minute if the bad behavior returns---at a loss of money. This keeps the
behavior within some bounds, usually. Then I meet with the boy and let him
know what is expected...give him goals, and so forth. My assistants are in
on this process, so they know what is expected as well. Then, if the boy
meets the goals, he is in, at least as far as behavior is concerned. If he
doesn't, he can't go. When following this process, I've yet to have a
Now, the physical aspects...
I tend not to go with rank advancement as an indicator of readiness.
Similarly, for example, when going to Seabase last summer, I did not require
the swimming merit badge of my youth, as many crews do. I go with the
Seabase requirements of "swimmer." I let the youth weed themselves out. We
went camping on hot, humid days (not hard to find in Missouri). Some didn't
like it. We went other places and spent the whole day int he water and on a
boat. Some didn't like that...we made sure we got "waked" by others, so the
boys would get used to rocking.
In the end, there wasn't much of an issue. I was very strict about the
swimming test...no stopping to tread water and so forth. No one had a
problem, including the young man who had only recently had surgery for CP.
I find that the biggest method of weeding out boys is money. Set dates
early. Force parents to contact you. If a parent contacts me and says that
they need an extra week until a paycheck arrives or something, that's ok.
If a parent does not contact me by the first due date, the boy isn't going.
I don't allow parents to assume anything--we are very big on communication
in our troop. Once the deposits are in, we are very sticklish about the
rest of money. A date missed without a phone call, and a week later, the
boy isn't going. Period. And yes, we send reminders and all that.
This is long...probably too long. But, it is experiences from a scoutmaster
who's been there.
Jason A. Cruse
Dept. of Political Science
University of Missouri-Columbia