Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Concern about being overwhelmed

This is an email from a coworker.  We live on opposite sides of the DFW so we don't see each other very often.

ok, so what is the point of scouts?  I mean I can see where it was a good thing back when it started and also in the city, but I don't get it for kids like H.  He isn't happy going and his dad signed him up for 2 more years without asking him about it.

The Purposes of Cub Scouting are:
  1. Character Development
  2. Spiritual Growth
  3. Sportsmanship and Fitness
  4. Family Understanding
  5. Respectful Relationships
  6. Personal Achievement
  7. Friendly Service
  8. Fun and Adventure
  9. Preparation for Boy Scouts
If you were to take the number of kids that start in Cub Scouting and make it to Eagle Scout, the amount of boys is only 5%.  That are horrible numbers if the end goal was only to get them to Eagle.  It is more about the road in Scouting and what they learn as compared about it only be a success by achieving the highest rank.

I guess the real question is "Why doesn't H like Cub Scouts?"  You can shop Dens.  If he doesn't like one Den, you can try another. 

So what your saying, its not so important to stay in just to get to an Eagle scout?

It's more about what he learns along the way, or what he learns while he is in it????

Not sure really why he doesn't like it.  He just says it isn't fun anymore.  I haven't talked to him in depth.  I think maybe he feels like he is always having to "do" something to earn this or that.  It's not doing it for fun.  Like going fishing just to go.  Or go hiking just to go....know what I mean. Maybe there is pressure on the boys to complete this or that instead of just having fun.

He just isn't excited about going anymore and was upset when he found out his dad signed him up for 2 more years.

And the things you listed, what if the boys are getting most of that already from family and church?  Do you think its still needed?  Or is it more for boys that don't have that family support?

I think H is more like me.  I kinda freak out when I have to much going on in my life at once.  So I shut down. 

Any ideas or thoughts.

It is more improtant that he learn character development, spiritual growth, to work with a team, learn good citizenship, learn his role in his families, respect relationships, see how he can reach gals, have fun and adventure and be a friend than earn his Eagle (this coming from an Eagle Scout).  I do think it is imporant to stay in the Scouting program and learn these things in the program.  Each boy, Eagle or not, will end up being a better man because of it. 

The point of always doing something comes sort of the strong work ethic the program tries to instill.  That being said boys progress at different speeds.  He doesn't have to do EVERYTHING the Den is doing.  It can (and is) overwhelming at times.  Trust me, I know.  I will say this, good leaders trick boys.  They say "Lets go fishing!  Doesn't that sound like fun?"  And then when they get them out there they teach them through conversation not a book or requirements.  Teaching boys should be limited from a book.  If you are reading from a book, boys have already lost interest.  They get enough of that at school!  Or the leader will teach them without knowing and when they get home, tell the parents and the boys what they have passed off.  Parents are intricle to the success of the program especially in Cub Scouts.  You should be there with him every step of the way.  Once he hits Boy Scouts, you get to play more of a "I am here but I am stepping back" role.  The best parents come to everything and let leaders and boys govern themselves.  My boys govern themselves on most things.

If Scouting is not fun, there is a huge issue!!!  Any leader knows that it is the fun of the program that brings boys back each and every week.  We as BOY Scout leaders, VARSITY Scout leaders and VENTURING leaders are expecting Cub Scout leaders to keep their attention and then pass them fired up to us.  Boy Scouts loose a lot of boys (almost 40%) at about grade 5.  Something happens about that time (mainly sports) that we loose the boys.  That being said, the Boy Scout program is doing much better than the Girl Scout program when it comes to retention. 

Now, your right.  A boy may be getting most of the aims and purposes of Cub Scouting from home and Church.  But there is something to be said for not just being taught these things but practicing them.  Church and home are a place to learn things-the world is a place where you get hands on training.  It is sort of like going to football practice and then heading to the big game.  If they are taught these things at home and Church (like I pray most boys are), Cub Scouts gives the opportunity to fine tune or practice them within his Den.  I think that no matter how much they learn at Church or in the home, Scouting is still needed (I am bias though).  Even the Mormon Church, who in my opinion puts the biggest emphasis on families compared to any Church, has accepted the Scouting program as "its own" for all boys.   

Sit down and have a conversation with the Den leader about H feeling overwhelmed.  If they honestly don't get it, find another Den.  Life has become so much more busy since I was in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts.  I now personally compete for the boy's time against: sports, girls, Facebook, cell phones, blended homes (H does have this concern), MP3 players, internet.  There are so many more things we compete against.  The biggest thing I compete against is apathy by both boy and parent.  And give H the opportunity to pick and choose his events.  Tell him he gets to pick one week a month where he doesn't have to go to Den meeting (and make sure the Den leader knows and also knows that they need to step up their program).  Maybe that will give him enough "control" that he will feel like he is back in control.

Thank you C for the info.  I will pass this along to his Dad. 

This is alot of good info.

The great think about the Scouting program is that is can hit a lot of kids at the same time.  I hope he stays in it personally but I hope more that his leaders hear your concerns and tailor the program to fit his needs!!!

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