Dear Andy, Attendance in our Troop meetings, hikes, and campouts is getting lower and lower. We’re thinking about making a percentage of participation mandatory for advancement, in keeping with the “be active in your Troop and Patrol” requirement. What do you think? (Q.Y., Dunellen Advancement Chair)
What do I think? I think you’d better re-read what the BSA National Council has to say about “adding to or subtracting from requirements.” You can’t do it – what you want to do is an addition. But, with that out of the way, let’s talk a little about the root of your problem (low participation is a symptom, not the problem). Sounds like you need more exciting, interesting, involving Troop meetings and outings! “Program Produces Participants” is the guideline. Have more stimulating events, worth attending, and more Scouts will show up! Want to know what to do? Simple: ASK THE SCOUTS.
Dear Andy, Our Cubs don’t wear complete uniforms because our parents say they’re too expensive. So the boys just wear the shirts, not the pants. We’d really like to have complete uniforms in our Pack. What’s the best way to do this? (L.U., Garwood DL Coach)
Well, I’d first wonder why a pair of blue pants that are half the price of the designer baggies kids wear these days are “too expensive.” But, that point aside, how about a fund-raiser? Like maybe a bake-sale, popcorn drive, or something else. Then use the money earned to buy Cub Scout pants for every boy in the Pack? How about “re-cycled” pants from a neighboring Pack? How about checking with your Scout Service Center for “experi-enced” Cub pants? There are lots of ways to do this – It just takes a little creativity. But, before you begin, one thought – Be sure ALL your leaders are already in complete uniforms. YOU set the example– for the boys AND their parents
Dear Andy, We’re happy that 13 Webelos Scouts from the same Den just graduated from their Pack and “crossed the bridge” into our Troop, but we’re worried about a Patrol that size. Can one Patrol Leader really manage all of these new Scouts, or should we suggest two co-Patrol Leaders? (O.X., Fanwood Scout-master)
You’re absolutely right. A Patrol of 13 is too much for ANY Patrol Leader to handle. So go for two Patrols, instead! One patrol of six, and the other of seven. Let the boys divide themselves, with the understanding that, if they want, they can re-divide in six months. Then, one Patrol Leader per Patrol will work just fine – especially if you assign one Assistant Scoutmaster to each Patrol/Patrol Leader, to act as mentor and guide for the first six months. Oh, don’t forget – The Scouts in the Patrol elect the Patrol Leader, and then he picks his Assistant PL.
Dear Andy, We have a Scout who’s barely 13, but he’s Life rank and just completed everything he needs for Eagle – merit badges, project, leader-ship, and everything else. But the Troop Committee doesn’t feel he’s old enough to really be an Eagle. Should we tell him how we feel, and suggest he keep on just working on merit badges and more leadership for a while, until we feel he’s more mature? (P.X., Newton Advancement Chair)
You ever seen a “Young Eagle Application”? Me neither! Or one that says a Scout has to be so many years old before he’s “qualified.” If he’s done the work, shouldered the responsibilities of his Eagle project, been a Troop leader, earned the merit badges, he’s ready. In fact, by doing all this in just a couple of years, he may have lots more “maturity” than you’re giving him credit for. So the next sound we should hear is an Eagle Board of Review convening! How cool to have an Eagle who’s going to be with the Troop another five years!
Dear Andy, We have a Scout in our Troop who got his Life rank two years ago, and was real active as our Senior Patrol Leader for the next year, then sort of dropped away. He’s a football player and runs track, so he only made a few meetings this past year. Now, he wants to earn Eagle and our committee says he’s got to be active for the next six months to do that. Does he? (C.L., Somerville Scoutmaster)
Now that’s an interesting question! Let’s see, the Eagle requirement says, “Be active for six months after being a Life Scout.” Sounds like he’s already done that (remember that year he was real active?). And after that, didn’t he “do his best” to attend meetings, even when he was playing football and on the track team? So it’s not really a good idea to insist he repeat a requirement he’s already done, and I’d recommend you tell the committee just that!
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(Issue 3 – August 2002)