Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Scout Training

At our Scout meeting tonight, they had arranged for a speaker to come in and do a program for the kids. She was from a local wildlife group and the kids seemed to enjoy it. I didn't get to see it because... they had also arranged to have trainers come on site to do retraining we're all supposed to undergo every 2 years. (oops, I thought it was every 3 years and that I was ahead of the game).

The training was frustrating. They seem to have in mind the perfect den of boys - well behaved, on time, in perfect uniform, parents who participate, parents who work on achievements at home. I seem to have almost none of those. I remarked to the trainers that the only thing my den has in common with their video is same age boys.

The trainers were saying that we should not be focusing on the achievements that the boys need. That for the most part, the boys should be accomplishing that at home and school. Yeah, in a perfect world, perhaps - but it doesn't seem to happen in my world. I feel like a broken record at times reminding parents to look in their books and check off what their kids have done. Yet, even my co-leader said that he rarely did that last year (and I don't think he has this year either - and yes, he was co-leader last year too).

I feel like I have 3 choices:

1. Try to follow the "Program Guide" - have a theme, plan lots of fun activities, do only those achievements that fit with your theme or must be done in the den meeting and then ask/expect the parents to do achievements at home. Expect that up to half the boys then won't earn their rank badge this year.

2. Keep doing what I'm doing - pushing achievements at the den meetings, making it so that every boy who comes to the meetings will earn their rank. Try to balance the not-so-fun activities with fun activities. The only achievements to expect of the parents are the ones that must be done at home (home fire drill, chores around the house) and the ones that the boy missed at a den meeting. Basically every boy earns rank.

3. Try to find a middle ground. Do all the achievements that must be done at a den meeting and any that might be difficult for parents at home (folding a flag). Do some of the fun achievements and electives and other stuff just for fun. Get started on an achievement and ask/expect parents to follow up at home. Realize that some boys probably won't earn rank (or not without a lot of prodding).

I guess I feel like #1 isn't a valid choice for my group - or at least not at the point. If I was going to expect the parents to do everything, I should have explained that in the beginning. When I have kids whose parents haven't managed to get a book or a uniform yet, I don't think that they are going to do all the achievements. Heck, I only managed to meet one kids parents (grandmother in this case) the middle of October, after 2 months of meetings.

I feel like I'm failing the kids if they don't advance, but yet I know that in Boy Scouts you only advance based on what 'you' do - some kids advance quickly, some slowly, some stagnate, some drop out.

I need to talk to my co-leader and see what we want to do. And maybe talk to the CubMaster/other leaders also. I think I was supposed to feel fired-up and ready to charge ahead on den meetings and instead I feel frustrated and like I'm doing everything wrong. Hopefully it will seem better after I've slept on it.


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