Boy Scouts that have been in the troop less than 2 years tend to be down the pecking order quite a way. Older scouts in a troop can lord over them and the experienced scouts naturally tend to lead the troop. I've found that scouts really look forward to the time when they can be on top of the heap.
I was reminded this evening that every Boy Scout can be a hero and be looked upon with awe. It only takes about 45 minutes and a little preparation, and it's a lot of fun.
Since I teach CPR and Wilderness First Aid, the Cubmaster of a local pack asked me if I would teach the cub scouts basic CPR and First Aid skills - in about 15 minutes. :-) Once I caught my breath from laughing, we haggled down to an intro to the topic and some interactive demonstrations.
I got 5 boy scouts to stop by for 30 minutes. They did a very short skit where they showed Check - Call - Care steps and Pressure - Elevate - Bandage for a cut. They also demonstrated Airway - Breathing - Circulation for breathing emergencies.
We had a couple dozen gauze pads, roller bandages, slings, and gloves for the cubs to practice with. Each boy scout took 3 or 4 cub scouts and put red duct tape on an arm or leg. The other cubs fixed the victim up real good!
What fun! The cubs did their best, then got silly with head wounds and full body wraps. But, they actually heard the main points and used them. And, best of all, they were tripping over each other trying to impress the big boy scouts with what they could do - even though these boy scouts were the younger ones in the troop. It was great for them to be the 'big guys' for a change.
So, look for opportunities to get your boy scouts down to the pack level to help out with short program topics when possible. First Aid, rope work, navigation, fire safety, or campfire stories can all be quick, interactive activities to do with the cubs. Don't try to teach them, just let them taste a bit of the adventure to come.
New Scouts joining the troop are a blast. When they are with the older scouts in the troop, they are pensive, unsure, quiet, and checking out everything that goes on around them. Then, when they are in their New Scout Patrol with just their peers, the chatter goes through the roof, they get squirrely, and the excitement of being a Scout really shows. In a month, when they are comfortable with their position in the troop, the troop meetings will be more 'lively'.
Our troop has new scouts from 4 different packs this year, from a single scout out of one to an entire den of 7 scouts from another. In past years, it's been easy because we only had enough new scouts to make one patrol or we had fairly even-sized groups from packs so they made patrols. But, this year, there are some new challenges and some of what I've done might be helpful to others.
First off, I had to decide to split 18 scouts into 2 or 3 patrols. I would love to have 3 patrols and then have every scout really try to recruit another boy to join. If 2 in each patrol were successful, that would make patrols of 8 scouts each. But, historically, individual scouts have rarely recruited friends.
A patrol in our troop typically has 50% to 75% participation on campouts. A patrol of 6 means 3 to 5 scouts while a patrol of 9 means 5 to 7 on a campout. Nearly all scouts in our troop are active in at least 2 other organizations besides school - sports, music, theater, church.
For those reasons, we have 2 new patrols with 9 scouts in each. This gives them the opportunity to earn the National Honor Patrol award too. I believe patrols of 8 to 10 work better than 6-8, especially in communities with many activity choices.
It didn't seem right to have 7 friends from a pack in a patrol with 1 or 2 new guys thrown in. To mix things up and still keep good friends together, I made a list of all the scouts and handed it out to every scout. They chose 1, 2, or 3 names they wanted to be with in a patrol. Or, they could choose "Anyone is fine".
This actually worked out very well. Every scout got to be with at least 2 of his 3 choices. One patrol was made up of 4 from a den and 5 from another den. The other patrol had 1, 1, 4, 3 so there was no dominating group in either patrol. The next time this happens, I'll have them pick 1 or 2 names instead of 3. That will set their expectations better.
The last thing I did was to talk with all the new scouts in a separate room from the troop. I made it clear (hopefully) that scouting is an individual adventure in the company of other adventurers. At times, we'll all work together and other times they each have to push themselves to succeed. One of the great parts of scouting is making new friends and I will put the patrols together to make that possible. My goal was to set their expectations that Boy Scouts is a new, different experience from Cub Scouts and they won't have the same old guys together - they're expected to make a new gang.
On Monday, the new scouts will meet and learn who is in their patrols. The Troop Guides will make the announcement and then gather their scouts together for a couple get-acquainted games. They'll then do as many of the Joining requirements as they can and start in on Patrol identity - name, yell, and flag.
Realistically, two scouts from each patrol will drop scouting in the first 6 to 10 months. Since I know this to be a high probability, recruitment will be pushed. The SPL, Troop Guides, and Scoutmaster will all be telling the new scouts that 10 is the best size for a patrol. They will be encouraged to invite friends to our open house in May or to a troop meeting, patrol meeting, or campout.
The BSA creates an annual report to highlight the achievements of its program. A group of scout delegates is chosen to present the report to the Speaker of the House each year to fulfill a requirement in the BSA charter. Since Hilliam Howard Taft in 1910, every U.S. president has received a BSA Report to the Nation delegation.
The youth in the delegation are chosen because they embody the spirit and values associated with Scouting. This year, a Webelos scout from Minnesota was chosen as a delegate because he saved his younger brother from drowning. He received the Honor medal, just like his father did as a youth.
The delegation has just completed their 5-day trip and the BSA has a site showing the delegates and their activities at BSArtn2007.org
. What a great experience, meeting top government officials and touring tons of historic and political sites.
From the Scout Handbook - "A Scout is reverent. A Scout is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties. He respects the beliefs of others."
As a scout experiences the wonders of the outdoors, stormy weather and calm blue skies, pounding surf and trickling streams, bitter cold and stifling heat, towering trees and barren desert, he experiences the work of God. Appreciating life in its multitude of forms, from the smallest insects to gigantic wildlife, a scout comes to terms with his place in the world. Though humans are the dominant beings on our planet, we need to play the role of steward rather than king - tending and caring for our world instead of taking all we can for our own comfort.
As technology continues to become more and more prevalent and people visit the wild places less and less, our connection to and understanding of our natural environment lessens. We take shelter, food, comfort, and entertainment for granted rather than needing to work for it. When we never have to harvest an apple from a tree, kill a fish or animal for meat, or put on layers of clothes to stay warm, we lose the sense of awe and respect we should have for nature.
Many outdoors people claim that the wilderness is their 'church' rather than a specific structure or organization. These people revere in the awesome power of God by being in the thick of natural creation. The reverence expressed for the world and its creation is common ground that all scouts can reach when struggling to understand the last point of the Scout Law.
No matter the specific religion or denomination, being reverent toward God should include our natural environment. In nature, there is no good or evil, just survival. Animals don't have the human vices of lust, pride, envy, gluttony, greed, sloth, and anger. We can learn a lot about simplifying and enjoying life from observing the wild creatures. We can also learn how our ability to care for and serve others puts us above the simple animals.
While in the wilds, a scout may come face-to-face with God. He may feel God around him in the wind, the water, the earth, and the open, wild beauty. When the scout returns home, he needs to continue that respect and awe toward God by participating in the practices of his religion. Becoming a complete citizen includes fulfilling expectations of the church to which a person belongs. What a great opportunity to share with other youth and adults in his church, when he returns from a backpacking trek. Faithfully performing his religious duties demonstrates his reverence while in civilization.
Respecting the beliefs of others can be a challenge. It does not mean to accept and believe those other beliefs. It means to allow other people the freedom to believe what they have found to be true in their lives. In a scout troop associated with a specific church, practices of that church can be used on scouting activities with everyone having the same belief structure. But, in troops with scouts from various beliefs, we need to be careful not to promote specific practices of one group. For example, requiring scouts to remove their hats at grace may be appropriate for some religions but may be a demonstration of disrespect to God for another.
Reverence fosters joy and a cheerful heart, able to appreciate and care for the good in life.
A Scout is Reverent.