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Struggling to stay in Scouts


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#1 Phrogger

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Posted 02 September 2016 - 06:30 AM

Hoping for some encouragement. My son crossed over to Boy Scouts at the end of last year. His den leader decided to cross all the boys early and finish Webelos I and II in one year. I did not agree to this but had no choice about it. I feel we were cheated out of a summer of Cub Scouts and a transition year. But I digress. We joined the same Boy Scout troop that his friends did.

 

Boy Scouts is such a different program than Cub Scouts. In the past few years (we were in Cubs 3 years) the Cub Scouts we were involved with made efforts to include STEM activities and things such as model rockets and planes, 3-d printing, amateur radio, etc. We also did the outdoor activities and service projects, and summer day camps were pirate themed or astronaut themed. We even had an Apollo 13 ground controller come talk to the group. He also loved the Pinewood Derby. But in Boy Scouts they only seem to plan traditional scouting activities, not all of which my son enjoys or is able to participate in. 20 mile hikes, kayak trips (which my son isn't allowed to participate in since he didn't go to summer camp and take the swim test), mountain biking, or rock climbing (neither of which my son has the physical strength to do or interest in). At meetings they work on their physical fitness requirements (situps, pushups yay) and tie ropes. I didn't send him to summer camp because he's so young (and didn't want to go anyway), but we went to the family campout together and it was miserable. No planned activities, the boys didn't even include my son in their card games or football tossing since he was the youngest one there (he's 10). He briefly got excited when they held troop leadership elections, and he wanted to do the drums for the opening ceremony, but he wasn't selected for anything, so that tiny bit of encoragement evaporated. Surely there's some minor leadership post they could assign so new boys feel more involved. Even if it's just "you're in charge of turning out the lights after the meeting" or something.

 

My son is completely out of his element and has been begging me to quit since day 1, even though he enjoyed Cub Scouts. I'm not sure what to do. I think that maybe in 3 years with a little growth and maturity he may enjoy it, but how hard should I push him to stay? Will it get better? Should I shop for a new troop or wait a while? I understand that traditional scout activities are the heart of the program, and the boy-led leadership philosophy is good in theory, but we just aren't finding anything to like about it yet.

 

 

 


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#2 fred johnson

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Posted 02 September 2016 - 07:00 AM

Yeah ... sometimes what is good for one scout is not good for another.  What some parents look for in the program is the opposite of what I look to have for my sons.  I fully believe scouts is a great program and it continually gets better as scouts mature.  But there are always bad matches.  

 

What do you think is the main issue?  This specific troop?  Would a different troop help?  A lot of what you say leads me to think you wanted your son to have another year to mature before Boy Scouts.  That could be very true as he's your son and you are the best judge.  Boy Scouts does take more self-confidence and ability function on one's own.  

 

As a side note, I can understand webelos wanting to cross early.  Packs now have Lions.  Tigers were added not that much earlier.  Most 4th and 5th graders don't want to do activities that are also suitable for Kindergarten and 1st graders.  ... BUT ... they are not really ready for Boy Scouts either as they grow alot during the 4th and 5th grade years.  Now that we pushed Cub Scouts as a younger kid program, we really need something targeting the in-between years better ... AS A SEPARATE PROGRAM.  Webelos are too mature for kindergarten and 1st grade activities, but not quite ready for the independence of Boy Scouts.  

 

I wish you the best.  


Edited by fred johnson, 02 September 2016 - 07:07 AM.

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#3 ianwilkins

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Posted 02 September 2016 - 07:44 AM

I say shop around, if you can, Boy Led or not, the troop will reflect the boys and the leaders in them, what might be right for many, may not be right for yours. I've seen it a fair few times, when cub packs and scout troops have wildly different programmes, it can be difficult for kids to move up, as they don't like the new style. My son was the same, in the UK, loved Beavers (aged 6-8) like crazy, hated Cubs (8-10). Left. Not pulled on a woggle since. You can't change the past, so let it go, but you can influence the future.


Edited by ianwilkins, 02 September 2016 - 07:46 AM.

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#4 Phrogger

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Posted 02 September 2016 - 08:05 AM

Fred, I think the biggest issue is that most of the activities are geared towards older scouts. There isn't much for tweens to be interested in.  I totally agree there needs to be an intermediate program, that participates with the Troop sometimes but does age-appropriate activities on their own as well. I don't see any mentorship happening from the older to the younger boys, just a lot of ordering them around. I guess my question is, is it worth trying another troop or is it typical that troops mainly do these events more geared towards older teens? Otherwise we might sit out the next couple of years and try again when he's older.


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#5 TWCub

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Posted 02 September 2016 - 08:13 AM

How about seeing if his old pack needs a den chief.  Best of both worlds than.  He can continue doing cub scout activities as a leader and maybe help plan some which would help him out with moving into a boy lead troop.  Good luck!


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#6 Eagle94-A1

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Posted 02 September 2016 - 08:24 AM

1) WELCOME TO DA FORUMS! Sorry to hear it's under challenging circumstances though.

 

Hoping for some encouragement. My son crossed over to Boy Scouts at the end of last year. His den leader decided to cross all the boys early and finish Webelos I and II in one year. I did not agree to this but had no choice about it. I feel we were cheated out of a summer of Cub Scouts and a transition year. But I digress. We joined the same Boy Scout troop that his friends did.

 

Based upon my experience, you may have been cheated. Different packs do different things, so some packs begin the Webelos to Scout transition earlier than others. My old Webelos den was ready to cross over after a year, but they didn't meet the 6 months since turning 10 or 6 months since completing 4th grade requirement so they stuck it out. But they interacted with troops. On the opposite side of things, we had a pack that didn't really begin the transition process until 3 months before Crossover, not only did they have a rude awakening, they also caused major issues with their patrol as they were still in Cub Scout mode.

 

Boy Scouts is such a different program than Cub Scouts.  Yes it is completely different, to the point that many adults have a  hard time adjusting. I've found that most youth adjust easily IF they are prepared in advance. In the past few years (we were in Cubs 3 years) the Cub Scouts we were involved with made efforts to include STEM activities and things such as model rockets and planes, 3-d printing, amateur radio, etc. We also did the outdoor activities and service projects, and summer day camps were pirate themed or astronaut themed. We even had an Apollo 13 ground controller come talk to the group. He also loved the Pinewood Derby. STEM is a relatively new thing in Scouting, so new that there are some who think it actually hurts the program. Many units are not into it. But in Boy Scouts they only seem to plan traditional scouting activities, not all of which my son enjoys or is able to participate in. 20 mile hikes, kayak trips (which my son isn't allowed to participate in since he didn't go to summer camp and take the swim test), mountain biking, or rock climbing (neither of which my son has the physical strength to do or interest in). Trips are supposed to be decided upon by the youth. A variety of factors are involved in that, including the needs of the older youth.  At meetings they work on their physical fitness requirements (situps, pushups yay) and tie ropes. I didn't send him to summer camp because he's so young (and didn't want to go anyway), but we went to the family campout together and it was miserable. One of the things I push new Scouts to do is GO TO SUMMER CAMP! ( caps for emphasis, not shouting.) Some of the reasons for that is 1) Social acceptance into the troop, 2) the tremendous jump in skills and knowledge they get, and 3) Its FUN!  By social acceptance, I've found that summer camp is where the scouts in the patrol and troop really get to know one another because they are living with each other for a week. They share common experiences and bond.  I missed my first summer camp, and my old CS den mates who went were accepted more into the troop. Because I didn't go, I was still more of an outsider. By Jump in skills, I know that my buddies who went to summer camp that first summer camp back WAY ahead of me in basic outdoors skills and had a jump on me advancement wise as a result. Grant you result may vary from camp to camp, as well as year to year. But the First Year Camper Director we had back in the day made  sure you learned. No planned activities, the boys didn't even include my son in their card games or football tossing since he was the youngest one there (he's 10). Part of it is his age, but I bet a big chunck of that is that the other scouts still do not really know him sinc ehe didn't go to camp. He briefly got excited when they held troop leadership elections, and he wanted to do the drums for the opening ceremony, but he wasn't selected for anything, so that tiny bit of encoragement evaporated. Surely there's some minor leadership post they could assign so new boys feel more involved. Even if it's just "you're in charge of turning out the lights after the meeting" or something. At this stage of the game, he needs really needs to focus on learning the basic Scout - Tenderfoot- Second Class- First Class skills as well as learning the dynamics within his patrol and being responsible for patrol level duties, i.e. grubmaster, cheer master, etc. And if your troop uses Mixed aged patrols instead of New Scout Patrols, he may even be an assistant so he can learn.

 

My son is completely out of his element and has been begging me to quit since day 1, even though he enjoyed Cub Scouts. I'm not sure what to do. I think that maybe in 3 years with a little growth and maturity he may enjoy it, but how hard should I push him to stay? Will it get better? Should I shop for a new troop or wait a while? I understand that traditional scout activities are the heart of the program, and the boy-led leadership philosophy is good in theory, but we just aren't finding anything to like about it yet.

 

First and foremost BOY LED LEADERSHIP DOES WORK IF USED PROPERLY; IT IS NOT "GOOD IN THEORY!" One of the biggest complaints I have is brand new adults coming in trying to apply Cub Scouts ideas to Boy Scouts. I admit I'm just as guilty of jumping in as the rest of us old fogeys. While it is a challenge to get there, I'm facing that with my troop, IT WORKS BEST LONG TERM! As for the rest I got a few questions for ya.

 

1) Did you visit other troops, go camping with them etc? 

 

2) WHAT DOES YOUR SON WANT TO DO?

 

Everyone has an opinion on visiting troops, i.e. some only want you to visit the CO's troop, and other want you to visit several troops to get one that meets the Scout's needs. While all troops have the same ideals, goals, etc, every troop applies them differently.  Your son may want to visit other troops and get a feel for them. I know my son visited camped with one troop, and didn't like the experience. So we went looking. We found one that did a lot of mentoring with the younger Scouts, only to find that the troop folded and became part of Trails Life. 3rd troop, while having challenges, was the one he liked and is now in.

 

 

 

How about seeing if his old pack needs a den chief.  Best of both worlds than.  He can continue doing cub scout activities as a leader and maybe help plan some which would help him out with moving into a boy lead troop.  Good luck!

 

I do not recommend this. I've seen young Scouts become DCs and it has not worked out as they want too much to play and do the CS activities. I strongly suggest finding another troop.


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#7 DuctTape

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Posted 02 September 2016 - 08:38 AM

I agree with what many above have said. My opinion is this is a general symptom of allowing (pushing) scouts younger and younger. The joining requirements should go back to the previous, and discourage "crossing over" in the spring. Complete the 5th grade first, imo.
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#8 eagle90

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Posted 02 September 2016 - 09:03 AM

Eagle94-A1 - Right on the money.  Excellent post.

 

Dale


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#9 qwazse

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Posted 02 September 2016 - 09:13 AM

@Phrogger, welcome to the forums.

 

You're son was rushed into the Boy Scouts. There should have been no problem with him hanging out with the next younger den, maybe visiting the troop for activities that would interest him, until he turned 11. Period.

 

My reply falls under a standard "If I were scoutmaster."

 

If I were scoutmaster, I would like to know above anything else if a boy is struggling with the program. It's very easy to be going full steam in an active troop and miss a boy who isn't tremendously upset, but isn't having fun either. This also trickles down to the older boys. Well-trained senior patrol leaders keep an eye out for boys who aren't "meshing" with their patrol (and, conversely patrol leaders who are "out of synch" with their boys).

Example: one of my most vivid memories as a new scout was of my patrol off doing something I wasn't interested in (possibly sleeping in), and the SPL taking the time to show me how to start a fire from coals. From that point forward, my troop/patrol could count on waking up to a fire ... provided they cached enough tinder the night before.

Clearly you are hoping something similar happens for your son. But, even though SPLs, PLs and other boys in the troop look so much more mature, they may not have learned the fundamentals of "working the crowd."

 

So, give your SM the "heads up" of the problem and share your ideas. If he believes in the patrol method, he'll have a huddle with the SPL and PL about a good Tenderfoot-scale position of responsibility.

 

Also, we have had younger scouts and their parents meet us at camp if the trails were overwhelming. That way, you and him can do some STEM stuff together then catch up with the troop in the evening ... at least for a couple of months.


Edited by qwazse, 02 September 2016 - 09:15 AM.

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#10 MattR

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Posted 02 September 2016 - 10:06 AM

@Phrogger, I read what everyone wrote and there's a disconnect. What you said is your son does not match this troop. Your son likes the stem stuff and he doesn't want to do a 20 mile hike. Those are two extremes. The fact that he's so young could also be a problem.

 

So, getting back to the basics, does your son have any friends in the troop? This is critical.

 

Next, what does he like doing in the outdoors? You mention a bunch of things he liked about cub scouts but none of those include the outdoors. If he likes camping with your family then my gut feeling is he'll eventually enjoy scouts. If he has never done much in the outdoors, and given that he's 10 years old, he's starting behind a lot of other kids. Some kids just don't like the outdoors. Do you like camping?

 

You mentioned the push ups and sit ups. Those are tenderfoot requirements, as are the knots he was working on. If he's not enjoying that then it's probably a case of the people, and not what's being done. Most scouts that age get all excited about having stuff signed off.

 

I do see issues with the troop. From what you say it sounds like the focus is on the older scouts. The fact that your son can't participate in an event because he didn't go to summer camp to take the swim test sounds a bit off to me. We do our own swim tests. It's not hard to set up. Anyway, there should be activities for everyone in the troop.

 

Also, there are stem awards within boy scouts. Google "stem nova bsa" for info.

 

Finally, I would talk to the SM with your concerns. Ask him for help on how best to get your son engaged.


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#11 Phrogger

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Posted 02 September 2016 - 10:11 AM

Eagle 94-A1, to answer your questions:

 

1. We did not visit other troops. The den leader discouraged it and as a group we only visited the CO troop. We didn't camp with anybody. Realize we crammed a 2 year program into a few months, so we rushed to complete our requirements right before crossover in May. There wasn't enough time to do the regular Webelos 2 transition. Also, the other reason we didn't look at the other troops because they are way across town and not convenient, and he doesn't know anybody in them.

 

2. My son wants to quit. Right now he gets a "headache" right before the meetings and doesn't want to go without being forced. He fights me when I ask him to work on requirements.

I also will point out we met with the Scoutmaster before camp (which was only a couple of weeks after crossover) and he agreed that the younger kids may not be ready for summer camp and may not have a successful week.

 

Edit: MattR, He has friends in the troop that go to his school. He does like outdoor activities including exploring forest trails, geocaching and playing outdoor games with other kids. He also likes learning new skills when they are introduced properly (an 8-hour kayak trip is not the time to learn how to kayak). As a family we went to a sailing camp with lots of outdoor activities and fun games and he really enjoyed trying all the new things. We don't camp much as a family, and I am not a big camper. But I try to be a good sport and we enjoyed it with the Cub Scouts.


Edited by Phrogger, 02 September 2016 - 10:19 AM.

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#12 cchoat

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Posted 02 September 2016 - 10:30 AM

As a Scoutmaster, I can understand that it can be a challenge for the new, younger scouts to enter into a scout troop.  The hard fact is that a 10 1/2 year old has alot to learn, and a short time to do it in a troop, in order to come up to speed.  I like to explain the scouting experance as follows:

 

Lion and Tiger is a family and scout program.  Adults plan, lead and guide the boys through the activities.

Wolf and Bear are a mom and scout program.  again, adults take the lead planning, leading and guiding the boys.

Webelos is more dad and scout.  Moms may be stil involved, but it is still an adult lplanned and led activity.

All told, during these years, the boys show up and advance as a group as they age.

 

Boy Scouts are planned and run by the boys with the adults taking on a supporting role, doing those activities that the boy cannot (banking, driving, etc)  The biggest problem I have with cub parents, who complain that their boy isn't getting any badges.  Advancement is the scouts responcibility, he chooses how fast or slow he moves through the ranks.   But I digress...

 

Reading the initial post, I can understand your sons dissatisfaction with the troop he is in.  But I feel it's his expectation that the troop has to adjust to serve his needs, as opposed to your son adjusting to and fitting in with them is the issue.  Unlike Cub Scouts where the boys are always in a group of the same age, troops run from the newest 10 1/2 year old just out of the fifth grade to the seventeen year old high school senior.   During this time, boys mature into adults, and their interests change and they become more independent.  So, troops activities will sometimes be more challenging for the younger scouts, and sometimes boring and dull for the older scouts.  It's the nature of the beast, and each troop handles it differently.  For example:

 

In our area, most Webelos cross over in February, at which time most troops are already half way through it's calender year (Our calender runs from August through July)  By then, the PLC has already met and schedualed out the activities for the year as well as summer camp, and the planned high adventure activity.   So the newly crossed over scouts dont have a say in the overall planning until the fall.  In my troop, this year the scouts planned to complete the hiking merit badge.  They have been making progress  and building up since last August, When the new scouts crossed over, they were already behind three ten mile hikes (under the old requirements)  and our scouts need to do one more ten and a twenty.   But, because they knew that come February, we'd have new scouts, they planned activities during the camping trips on which the hikes would be completed, for the new boys to do. 

 

Since the scouts decide what they are going to do, you and your son have to understand that alot of them will choose to do the fun and exciting outdoor stuff, such as camping, hiking, canoeing, climbing, etc.  STEM is a new program, and is thought of by the boys in my troop to be more school than cool.  That's why i always recommend that parents and boys shop around for a troop that meets their needs.  If your son was into STEM, then find a troop that uses that program.   if he continues in the troop and makes friends and advances, he can suggest that the troop particvipate in STEM. 

 

A 10 1/2 year old who just joined the troop should not expect to hold a leadership position, especially if he hasn't done much in the way of advancement and missed the bonding opportunity of summer camp in his first year.    Since the boys elect thier SPL and PL's and the SPL appoints his junior leaders (ASPL, QM. Scribe etc) a new scout has to learn to understand that he has a way to go before he can be a leader.  This is the time for him to learn how to follow, not lead, as this will come as he grows into the troop and scouting.   I blame this on what he experanced in Cubs, as each boy takes a turn as the Denner and Assistant Denner.   And as a new 10 1/2 year old scout, he is not ready for a Den Chief position, and no Scoutmaster will recommend a new scout with no experance for that position.  He needs to work on advancing his knowledge in scouting before he attempts to share it with Cubs.

 

If your son understands that he has to be patient, work on his scouting skills and advancement, then one day he will have the ability to influance his troop.  In scouting, it's up to the scout whether he soars with the eagles, or not.


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#13 qwazse

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Posted 02 September 2016 - 10:52 AM

Thanks for more details, I keyed in on this.

.... He fights me when I ask him to work on requirements.  ...

 

Really really important right now: don't ever ask him to work on requirements again, ever. Not until he asks you to provide that concierge reminder service.

When he comes from school let him know that you learned a lesson from a creepy guy on the internet who claims to have seen scouts come and go. That lesson is that Boy Scouts is his program, not yours. So, from now on, if he want's your help with any requirement ... even a gentle reminder ... he canhave to ask you and mom. The only thing you want from him is that he live up to the Scout Oath and Law. If he can do that, you'll be happy. Anything else good he does in scouting you promise to be proud of him, because it will be his achievement that he got on his own.

 

Absolutely the number one reason I've seen young scouts quit is because they perceived too much pressure to meet requirements too fast. That pressure did not come from us, it came from parents.


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#14 Phrogger

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Posted 02 September 2016 - 11:02 AM

Thanks for all your thoughtful replies. I'm thinking we will stick it out for at least this year, and participate in a few, but maybe not all, activities. I'm not going to push this but we will try and stay connected. Next year we'll reconsider summer camp, and if things aren't working out we may look at a new troop. At some point he has to start taking initiative and liking it on his own though, and not because I'm forcing him to go. Like any activity, there has to be a balance between "making a kid do something that's good for them" and "not being a quitter just because things get hard" and the converse, "forcing a kid to do something they hate."
 


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#15 jr56

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Posted 02 September 2016 - 12:36 PM

Sorry your son got pushed through Weblos too fast.   Not going to summer camp really put him behind.   Too bad you and your son did not have a good understanding of the scouting program.   I have seen it a lot, very few Cub scout parents understand the scouting program.

The best advice is have your son go to meetings and outings if he wants to.   Hang out with his friends.  Take advantage of the outings that he is interested in.  Advancement is HIS decision.   If the troop program is run correctly, he will complete requirements just by attending meetings and outings.  He is a very young scout, and will probably feel a little out of place, especially since he missed summer camp.  He is way to young for any kind of responsibility at this point, he needs to learn all the basic scout skills first.  Good luck to him, hope he sticks with it,  It will be worth it.


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#16 AKdenldr

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Posted 02 September 2016 - 01:21 PM

It is a hard transition.  I asked all my crossing Webelos to go to summer camp and try boy scouts for a year.  We called it the super glue agreement.  Perhaps something like this will work for your son.

 

Is your son in a patrol with the other guys that he crossed over with?  Can he plan some activities for the patrol?  Perhaps even locate a STEM type merit badge that the rest of the patrol would be interested in (and merit badge counselor.)

You could mentor him in making those arrangements.  At this age even a sleepover is great fun for a patrol.

 

Boy scouts is individual paced rather than group paced like cubs so focusing on the fun is a good idea.  


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#17 blw2

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Posted 02 September 2016 - 02:33 PM

I had to go back and reread your original post to better understand why he would dread going to the troop meetings so much.

Actually sounds remotely similar to something i am a little frustrated with in our troop for the young guys.  It sounds like the troop is excluding the younger guys on some events.

In our troop, they are re-structuring to have a venture patrol, to do stuff for the older guys.... but the thing is some of what they are talking about doing are certainly within the interest and ability of the younger guys too.  Maybe I'm just projecting since I have not heard much complaining form my son and the others, but I sure feel like the exclusionary idea is discouraging.

I'd get it for some activities that just aren't age appropriate, but I figure the young guys want a bit of adventure too!

 

In this case though, it seems that your son might want a bit more by the way of planned and organized fun activities....

Since the troop is doing stuff that excludes him and his friends, maybe he and his patrol could plan some patrol activities that are more appealing to them.  Maybe a suggestion to him might get him and his patrol to pitch it to the SM (now I'm assuming he's in a "new scout" patrol)  

Let them be in control of doing some stuff they want to do!

Maybe work towards a merit badge might be a good kick start.


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#18 Phrogger

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Posted 03 September 2016 - 08:28 AM

They have mixed age patrols, but he does have one friend from his cub den in his patrol. They haven't been specifically excluded per se, but I think most of the trips and activities have been skewed towards the older boys.


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#19 Hedgehog

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Posted 03 September 2016 - 08:46 PM

The problem seems to be having boy-led without servant leadership.  Servant leadership means that the leader is responsible for taking care of the boys he leads so that the boys succeed.  Our guys know when the Webelos are crossing over and they tend to plan the first campout after they cross over to be something that would be fun for them.  The PLs know that there is a transition and they watch over the guys as if they are little brothers.  At summer camp, the crossovers go to the First Class Adventure together and bond both with the other crossovers and with the Troop.  By September, the new guys are part of the Troop.  

 

Our outdoor program is pretty varied and it is designed to accomodate all ages.  Last year we did sea kayaking (which was kayaking in a relatively calm bay), a camporee, a backpacking trek (starting with some night backpacking for the older guys with a shorter option where inexperienced backpackers could join in), a camping trip to Washington, DC, camping in adirondak shelters in February, cabin camping with a cast iron chef competiton,  camping with orienteering, mountain biking and hiking, camping and horseback riding, a one day boating trip in June, a 3 day 21 mile backpacking trek and then summer camp.  There is something for everyone and a lot of different adventures for those that go on every trip.  There are no age limits on any trips - the boys are only limited by their ability and their desire.  We had a 6th (going into 7th) and two 7th (going into 8th) graders do a 50 mile backpacking trek last summer.


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#20 qwazse

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Posted 04 September 2016 - 05:27 AM

@Hedgehog, you're doing a little bit of apples-to-oranges. What was the youngest age (not grade) of your participants? I couldn't imagine throwing any of my kids into most those activities while they were 10 years old.
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