Scoutmaster Musings - Advancement Isn't Everything

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Scoutmaster Musings

Advancement Isn't Everything
There's a scout in the troop that just finished eigth grade this spring. In the 3 years he's been involved in the troop, he has advanced only to Tenderfoot. On paper, some folks might say he's "failing", or at least not "getting" the scouting program. Far from it.

I just had a scoutmaster conference with him today to check in and see if I could help get him through some requirements. We chatted about our week we just completed at summer camp and I told him it was pretty cool that he earned the NRA Marksman First Class award. He also completed the Rifle and Shotgun merit badges. He had a great time at camp.

This scout actually has a great time at pretty much every scouting event he attends, and he attends a lot. So, you would think he'd be advancing more. When I asked him what his plans were for reaching the higher ranks, he told me he wasn't really interested in that - he just liked scouting. He wants to keep having fun with his patrol and doing the fun stuff that the troop plans.

And, I guess, that's hitting the nail on the head right there. A scout does what he enjoys doing and that's what keeps him involved. Some scouts thrive on badges, pins, and ribbons while others just like burning stuff and skipping rocks. As long as they are having a good time and getting what they need from their troop and patrol, it's all good. They will be learning good stuff without knowing it. Some enjoy being up front leading but there's room for those that mostly follow along too. Those followers may not demonstrate what's required to be an Eagle, but they can certainly contribute to their patrol.

We did discuss the fact that he will need to reach First Class to attend high adventure trips next year and he has created a plan to advance that far. He's actually done practically everything needed, but just doesn't ever get his book signed. He isn't lazy or forgetful, it just isn't a priority for him.

He told me directly that he is not interested in being an Eagle scout. All the work of a project and leadership roles and mandatory merit badges does not appeal to him. If he reaches Life, I'll be very surprised. But, I won't be surprised to show him out the door on his 18th birthday and right back in again as an Asst. Scoutmaster the next day.

I need to keep in mind that every boy that comes along to join Boy Scouts is unique but every one wants to have fun. Each one has potential to accomplish great things and I just need to follow him along his trail to see how it goes. There's nothing wrong with him stopping for a bit to rest or just to blow dandelion seeds for the heck of it, as long as we're enjoying the trail. As long as he and I understand where he wants the trail to take him, I can nudge him along if he wanders too far off. Not every scout's trail is headed towards Eagle.

Scout On

Posted: 17:39 07-25-2008 346
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