Zapping the Fun out of it

wallWe all get to a point when we hit the wall, reach the point of diminishing return, stop having fun.  Teen age boys seem to hit that point way before adults and that my friends seems to be normal.  So know what we know, how do we deliver that promise without loosing our cool, making Scouting painful, and zapping the fun out of it.
I have been giving this subject a lot of thought lately and it pretty much came to a head for me the other night at our Troop meeting when I had a little chat with a Scout and his Dad.  This Scout is a good kid, he is growing up and seeing where he can push and pull on the limits with his parents, school, etc… that to seems to be pretty normal, I mean, all kids test the waters.  They see were they can get away with things and what they will be allowed to do and not do.  But that is not really here nor there in the conversation other than to say, this young man is testing where he can and Scouting is becoming a push and pull point between his Dad and himself.
I remember when this young man entered our Troop, he was gung ho about Scouting and dove right in.  He quickly worked his way through rank and never missed a good Scouting opportunity.  Went to the National Jamboree and Philmont and has by and large been a good Scout.  But now he has a driver’s licence, a girl friend, and Scouting is not cool among the crowd he is hanging with at School.  Again, normal… right?
Like I said, this all has come to a head this week, the discussion about how we maintain a good balance for our Scouts without compromising the program.  How do we keep older Scouts engaged and how do we keep it fun and adventurous for them while we compete with the rest of their worlds?  How is that we keep them from reaching that point of diminishing return and get them to continue to make a contribution to the Troop?  How do we assist them in staying active as a member and leader in the troop?
Well, I may not have the answers, but I am willing to try to at least offer solutions.
I am, as you know, a big believer in the Patrol method.  I think that the Patrols are a big piece of the puzzle here.  Allowing the Scouts to maintain the Patrols of guys that they want to be with, share common interests and likes and dislikes.  Maybe if they stay together, they will rally around each other.  To much moving around and the Scouts start to lose interest in going through the stages of team development and maintaining that high performance attitude.
So let them pick and keep their Patrols and Patrol mates.  When they invite a friend, let that friend be in their Patrol.
Leadership is always an issue also.  We expect our older Scouts to be leaders.  And I agree, but to what end?  When they start to hit the wall, they are not affect leaders, they tend to go through the motions and develop bad attitudes.  If they don’t want to lead, don’t make them.  They will get their leadership time and I would much rather have a leader that wants to lead than one that is being forced.  Leadership comes in many forms and maybe just their example can be enough till they are ready to step back into the spot light of Troop leadership.
Attendance.  This one gets debated over and over again, and everyone has an opinion.  By the way, I am interested in yours.. leave a comment.  Here are just a few thoughts of mine regarding this issue.  I am not a big proponent of forcing Scouts to be there.  I want them to be there.  I also understand that life for these kids (and adults) is busy.  Sports, homework, vacations, friends, other clubs all pull at the Scouts and their families.  Don’t let Scouting be the thing that becomes the bad guy.  Make Scouting something they want to be at.  I have said it before, Scouting may not be for every boy and as their world pulls at them it provides an opportunity for choices to be made.  The more they understand the value of Scouting and the fun, the higher on the priority list it goes.  Attendance at meetings, outings, and other unit functions needs to be the choice of the Scout and the family.
But Jerry, how do you determine what “active” means?  Well, I always go back to what the Boy Scouts of America has determined as the standard.  Here is how the BSA defines “Active”:
A Scout will be considered “active” in his unit if he is;
Registered in his unit (registration fees are current)
Not dismissed from his unit for disciplinary reasons
Engaged by his unit leadership on a regular basis (informed of unit activities through Scoutmaster conference or personal contact, etc.)
In communication with the unit leader on a quarterly basis.
(Units may not create their own definition of active; this is a national standard.)
So that’s it.  That is active. I may or may not agree with it, and I am sure that there are some of you that feel that this standard is a bit chinsy.. but it is what it is.  That is how the Boy Scouts of America define it and that is what we must comply with when determining the activity of our Scouts.  That is the standard.
And so that is what I use as my guide.  Now, during the Scoutmaster conference I make it a point to ask what the Scout is getting out of the program… typically, you get out of Scouting what you put into it.  So once a Scout gets to that point where Girls, Gas, and Goofing off start taking a priority and troop meetings start to take a back seat, what is he getting out of it.  Does he still camp with the Troop?  Does he show up for service projects or courts of honor?  That would make him active, right?  I think it may.  The Scout will let you know how he is doing in the program, but we all know that forcing the issue on a teen-aged young man will result in push back.  And then you are back at square one.  The fun will officially be zapped out of it.
So what now?
First, know your Scouts.  What they like, dislike, and what makes them want to be there.
Second, use the Patrol method.  Enough said about that.
Finally, be flexible.  It’s only Scouting.  There is much to be gained in our organization, but if you are not happy here, or not here at all, you won’t get anything out of it.
Don’t be a Troop dictator.  Be as Baden-Powell said in Aides to Scoutmastership.. “To get a hold on boys, you must be their friend”.
Build trust in them and let them set their course for adventures in Scouting.
Hope that made any sense…  Don’t zap the fun out of Scouting.
Thanks for hanging in there and reading the blog.
Have a Great Scouting day!

 

About these ads
Categories: Advancement, blog, Camping, Character, comments, Ideals, Jamboree, Journey to Excellence, Methods, Oath and Law, Patrol Method, Philmont, Scoutmaster conference, Service, Skills, teamwork, Values | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Post navigation

4 thoughts on “Zapping the Fun out of it

  1. This one hits home all too well for me and my boys. But right now it has to do with getting them off their lazy butts and away from the video world. At one point they disliked scouting just because they didn’t like missing a whole weekend of video gaming. I told them they could give up scouting if they gave up all video and computer games. Now my older one isnt so resistive anymore, but the younger (middle child) one argues all the time. He wanted out of his Patrol (all first borns I must add) and has stared Helping a new crop of baby scouts along with a wonderful Eagle Scout, but we are still struggling with the attention span and maturity. So, how do you find a balance in all of this. I am frustrated at their lack of motivation, yet if Scouting were a video game they would have completed the program twice by now.

    • Scoutmomx2…
      I’m still trying to figure it out.. but what I can tell you is that the program is the program and should not change. Let the Scout find his place in it. Motivation.. every one is motivated in different ways. The trick is to find that motivation and move on it.
      Thanks for the comment.. when I start figuring it out I’ll let you know.

  2. Danielle Ballantine

    Interesting post – one I suspect will resonate with many. I am one for sure. My son has been going through a similar situation. I kept him registered in the Troop for a year and have not pushed him to attend activities. He’s been struggling with the adjustment to high school and that has been our priority. He’s not involved in activities in school either… I know that as the concept of applying to college begins to get closer, he might reconsider his behavior – and I’m very hopeful he’ll recognize how much he really did get out of scouting as his maturity catches up with his height. Meanwhile, I continue my involvement on my end. Although not a leader in his troop, I am an active scout leader. Scouting continues to be all around him. So I remain hopeful. Thanks for the perspective and knowing that we’re not alone. Hearing that my son is within the range of “normal” is very comforting.

  3. Linda Goodman

    Sorry, I disagree. I want to be the quarterback for our high school football team , but am too busy to attend most practices. That is what you are saying. I think you earn the right to be an Eagle scout. Not camping for a year, barely talking to the other scouts, refusing leadership positions, this is not Eagle material. I tell my scouts – life is about choices………. When you choose to join marching band, concert band, competition band, jazz band, etc., you choose to no longer have time for scouts.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com. The Adventure Journal Theme.

UltraLight Backpacking or Bust!

Cutting Pounds One Ounce at a Time

David's Passage

Outdoor Video Blog

QBQ!

Be Outstanding Through Personal Accountability

Girly Camping®

It's Not Just For Boys...

STORIES of TROOP 175

Camping and Events

Hanging On The Trail

Planning and completing a 2014 Appalachian Trail thru-hike

Mr. Harrison's Blog

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Leader Daze

Life, Camp, and Scouting

Boys' Life magazine

Play challenging online games, laugh at funny jokes, build amazing projects and find lots of fun at the online home of Boys\' Life, the official youth magazine for the Boy Scouts of America.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,140 other followers

%d bloggers like this: