What do you do when you have Scouts that do want to advance in rank? What about not wanting to go to Summer camp? What do you do when they just show up and hang out?
These are age old questions that I hear over and over again at Round table and in discussions with other Scoutmasters. And the answers are about as clear as the questions.
First you need to ask yourself what is it about the Scout that makes him feel this way about advancement and camp. I am certain that you are perfectly fine with the idea that he likes hanging out with his friends.
Is the Scout being disruptive? If not, then what is it that bothers you as a Scoutmaster about his lack of “want to”?
Boys join Scouting for many reasons. Maybe it’s because they enjoyed Cub Scouts and they are moving up with their buddies. Maybe it is because their Dads were Scouts, way back when. Maybe it’s because they are looking for something to do, an adventure, a place to belong and feel a part of a team. There are as many reasons as there are Scouts and the answers will tell a lot about his motivation once he becomes a part of the Troop. A lot of the time it has more to do with friends than it has to do with badges, rank, and camping. Those three things drive the program for us in many ways. They are a measurement of activity, achievement, and a healthy program in most cases. But what about that Scout that could really care less? A Scoutmaster once told me that they were going to drop a kid if he did not advance or go to camp that summer. I asked him why he would do that? His explanation got my head spinning. He said that it was because that kid and kids like him bring down the numbers for the unit. They hurt the Troop in the long run when it comes to Top Troop or Troop of the Year.
(INSERT RECORD SCRATCH SOUND HERE)
What about the boy? I asked. Is he having fun? Is he learning something? Is he hanging out with his friends? Is he showing signs of good character, fitness, and citizenship? Well?
Citizenship, Character, Fitness. You can have all of that without a single badge, right? YES, BUT.
I have a Scout in my Troop that has been in the unit for almost three years. He attends meetings regularly, goes on a camp out here and there, and likes hanging out with his friends. He still wears the last rank he earned on his shirt.. Scout. Ask him if he enjoys Scouting and he will tell you yeah, but he likes it because of the friendships. He helps with service projects and generally is a good boy, as good as most. He gets good grades, has a friendly demeanor, and enjoys the company of his patrol. So should I throw him out because he has not advanced? Heck no! He is getting out of Scouting what he wants.
Now it is a fact that Scouts that attend Summer camp typically stay in Scouting longer and work their way through the ranks. And it is a fact that those that make it to First Class in the first year have a better chance at earning their Eagle award. BUT IF we look at the boy and not the score card I think that we can effectively save them all and in the end achieve our goals of creating men that can make ethical decisions throughout their life times. Men of character that are good citizens. Men that know how and keep themselves Physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.
So what do you do that Scout? Teach him, coach him, and mentor him to meet the aims of Scouting. Take him for who and what he is and do your best to encourage him.
Have a Great Scouting Day!