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Thread: Turnover and loss of skills

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    ESL and DESC ianw's Avatar
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    Turnover and loss of skills

    Two years ago we had an activities based camp in Matlock with a few nights of "patrol" cooking, we had 27 Explorers. Last year we had 37 Explorers, but were on a fully catered Jamboree in far off exotic climes. This year we have 44 (so far) Explorers, a field with a tap, not many big ticket activities, and lots of time for "patrol" cooking and "scouty"/cheap activities, games, walks etc.

    Then I look at the list of who's coming, and it turns out that last year was clearly a last hurrah for many. Now I don't necessarily have a problem with that, but when I counted it up, I was genuinely surprised. 37 last year, 44 this year, last year there were 16 who were aged 17 or older. So how many are coming this year that went last year? 12. Just twelve that came last year that are coming this.

    If I look back a year, 18 out of 27 from Matlock were in that 37 that came to the Canaries, 2/3rds, it's about what you'd expect, maybe a bit more. There's just 7 coming this year that were in Matlock two years ago, so have experienced a more self sufficient camp. And 1 that did the 2015 camp.

    I'm sure this is not news to some of you, I'm sure I've heard this lament before. I guess it's the timeframe of the big camp. Lots of the older ones know and love scout camp, so they sign up to the big camp in 9 months time. Some will be turning 18, but they aren't a pain, so they sign up too. The lead time is that much bigger, so instead of announcing it in Feb for signup, it's back in October/November. The ones that came up in September that aren't quite sure about explorers may not sign up to such a big trip, too scary at this point, further skewing the number and age, the ones that join in January, same applies but worse, plus the flights are booked, at some point the new ones can't join the fun.

    Since the Canaries camp, many of the then 17 year olds have turned 18 and moved on, a couple haven't, august babies, and are coming. In previous years a few might have asked to come as helpers, this hasn't happened this time. One of the units has had a big influx from scouts, nothing sinister, just lots in that age range, it appears they love a summer camp, so the average age has taken a lurch downwards by 6 months or so.

    On a normal summer camp, you can mostly have a few late comers, if you have a bit of headroom on your activities, I know three years ago someone signed up just two weeks before, as her friend talked to her after the Explorers/parents meeting, that was fine. Annoying, but fine, we had flex. I guess we might have a smaller echo of my problem (if it is a problem, if I've made it in any way clear) this year, as we're very nearly full, so anyone joining after easter, or any january joiners that were dithering, will probably be out of luck. Three minibuses are full, and that's that.

    Not sure if I've had any point or great revelation in writing this, more of a musing. I guess in the end it's that the time they have in a section is quite short really. I'll miss some of the legends that have done the last 3 camps with me, but new legends will arise.

    Glad I've not written this at 2am, might have come across as maudlin. Or even more nonsensical
    Ian Wilkins
    Farnham District Explorer Scout Commissioner

    Jambowlree - Worldwide Scout Ten Pin Bowling Competition
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    Assistant Beaver Leader Keith's Avatar
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    We have a problem in our Scout section regarding the lack of Scouting skills, in particular knots. A few weeks ago only a few of the Scouts could do a reef knot, even though we've taught them in Beavers since atleast when the hexagon challenge badges came in. Our Scout leaders are now working on these skills with the Scouts to get them where they should be. By Scouts I should be able to invite them to come to Beavers to teach some basic knots, but right now there are a few Beavers more competent then them at reef knots. Luckily we borrowed some of our Young Leaders from other sections to help us.

    The key to this is to teach them these skills early, and then keep practising. In Scouts I could quite easily help put up an obstacle course, built from scratch with all the knots and lashings I knew and that was because we practised and used these knots.

    Back to your post Ian, it's similar with your summer patrol camps - you've effectively lost half of your Explorers since the last summer camp where they did their own cooking in patrols, and if your new Explorers from last September haven't signed up, you are left with a very small number with that sort of experience. You can teach these skills in advance of a summer camp during unit meetings and on weekend camps by doing some back to basics patrol cooking - don't be too ambitious with menus, try some of the one pot recipes for them to follow.

    In Beavers we have lost most of our experienced Beavers to Cubs, leaving us with 25% of what we had in the summer, and 75% new Beavers this year so I am struggling to appoint Lodge Leaders who I feel are old enough and have been in Scouting for long enough to be able to be given the role. Luckily I can sort this out by rearranging lodges.
    Keith "Hawkeye"
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    Senior Member Bushfella's Avatar
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    Wilko, I am surprised at you. Overthinking like this.

    There is no reckoning for the hows and whys of turnover.

    We ran internationals and those who went always wanted to go on another in their time in Scouts/ Explorers, but elshwere a Scouty International resulted in a high turnover and a lot of drop outs - been there, done that.

    I actually got a tee'd off after an excellent trip, when we were on the trip we planted the seeds of the follow up. It looked like we would have virtually a whole group turn out ( which would have been problematical), but then some of those who had been on the previous trip, to a different destination reckoned that we couldn't top the first, so they weren't coming. That created collateral damage, X isn't going so I'm not going sort of thing. Well, we did a bit of persuasion and they came, and it was as good as the first trip they did, but different... Then when planning came aorund for the next trip the negativity set in from the same voices. This time we didn't chase them - we were too disappointed in their reaction, maybe even angry with them for being so negative about something that they had enjoyed so much.

    This year's trip is down by 8, we have 16 instead of 24. We considered cancelling, but then we thought, no, that isn't fair on the ones who want to go, so we do it, and we broadcast it on social media and the next time (what next time) we might get better uptake. ( I have already got people saying, next time...)

    It isn't worth overthinking, we live in a been there, done that, society and if I am honest, The Scout Association, IMHO, actively promotes that mentality.
    Ewan Scott

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    Senior Member oneiros's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keith View Post
    The key to this is to teach them these skills early, and then keep practising.
    Re. Scouting Skills. We have a similar issue and I think the problem is the second part of your statement above. I think they do get taught knots in Beavers and Cubs, but they use them so infrequently that they forget what they're doing. My Scouts let out an almighty groan when I suggest we might be doing knot- or map-work; these are core skills in which they have no real interest.

    When I returned to the Movement five years ago, after almost thirty years away, I could still remember how to do a square lashing...

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    Assistant Beaver Leader Keith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oneiros View Post
    When I returned to the Movement five years ago, after almost thirty years away, I could still remember how to do a square lashing...
    I think I could still remember / work out how to do a square lashing without help.
    Keith "Hawkeye"
    Assistant Beaver Scout Leader (Woodbadge)
    Group Badge Secretary
    Fundraising Co-ordinator - Group Family Camp 2018
    1st Ingleby Barwick (St Francis) Scout Group



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    Sparks Sparks's Avatar
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    I find that the scouts today appear unable to co-ordinate their two hands in order to tie even the most basic knot.

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    AESL & AGSL shiftypete's Avatar
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    We run a joint Troop and Explorer Summer Camp often with a split programme of out of camp activities. We have a small Unit but we get most of the Explorers on our Summer Camp year after year and often they come back and help run summer camp at least whilst they are at Uni.

    Our last International was back in 2008, all of the Explorers on that camp which I am still in touch say it was their best camp (I think the fact it was 30+ degrees C every day depsite it only being in Belgium might have helped) but they pretty much all still came on the UK based Summer Camps in the following years they were in Explorers.

    We do try to go to different places for Summer Camp and certainly the soonest we would re-visit a site is 5 years so no one ever goes to the same site as an Explorer but possibly they go somewhere as an Explorer that they camped as a Scout but the experience is different as an Explorer).

    Peter Andrews AESL of Headingley Pirates ESU, Group Scout Leader & Webmaster of Falkoner Scout Group
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    Please note all views expressed are my own and not those of any organisation I'm associated with

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    ASL and YLUL wealdbrook's Avatar
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    We see this same loss of skills in Scouts - they come up from Cubs able to do lashings, tie knots, light fires, read maps, cook food and they immediately have lobotomies! Even those who relearn the skills seem to forget them quickly and (partly because we do not run enough camps) when they need the skills they are out of practise. (Not wishing to sound like a worn record) the age range also means that the oldest ones often do not have enough experience or maturity to pass the skills on to the younger ones. (Not wishing to sound like a worn record again) some of the newer leaders do not have a Scouting background and the current validation regime means they do not learn Scouting basics so they can't help either.
    John Alexander,
    ASL and Assistant Webmaster
    1st Weald Brook
    http://www.1stwealdbrook.org.uk
    ESL(YL) Brentwood District

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    Quote Originally Posted by wealdbrook View Post
    We see this same loss of skills in Scouts - they come up from Cubs able to do lashings, tie knots, light fires, read maps, cook food and they immediately have lobotomies! Even those who relearn the skills seem to forget them quickly and (partly because we do not run enough camps) when they need the skills they are out of practise. (Not wishing to sound like a worn record) the age range also means that the oldest ones often do not have enough experience or maturity to pass the skills on to the younger ones. (Not wishing to sound like a worn record again) some of the newer leaders do not have a Scouting background and the current validation regime means they do not learn Scouting basics so they can't help either.

    I can't understand why the need to validate a module means that Leaders do not learn the basics.

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    Sea Scout Leader richardnhunt's Avatar
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    I think a bigger issue is that where we dont have opportunities to regularly implement skills, then they will fade.

    So, my thoughts on the great knot timing debate.....

    For the record - i hate the reef knot as a basic knot. Its so blooming useless (yes I know about slings). Lets teach the sheet bend as the first one as it means we can reliably join two bits of rope together.

    And then lets use them

    OR

    If your troop never uses knots - dont bother with them (or change what you do to show you need to use them)

    AND

    Dont tell everyone knots are boring - make them cool and exciting. Talk about what they are far - and learn the basic 6 or 7 and just nail them. There is a great secret - you dont need to know 158 different knots - sub 10 will do about everything


    Rich

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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveF View Post
    I can't understand why the need to validate a module means that Leaders do not learn the basics.

    No but i can understand that when one of the module asks how many Scouts there were in the world in 2009 (yep 9 years ago when the 18 year old was a Cub), that perhaps we have lost the plot as to whats important.

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    Senior Member oneiros's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveF View Post
    I can't understand why the need to validate a module means that Leaders do not learn the basics.
    I think the point being made is that, despite the Wood Badge requiring validation of 18-19 modules, the focus on skills is inadequate; Module 18 can be validated with the demonstration of just two skills...

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    The aim of the skills module is to demonstrate that the delegate can facilitate learning. Which is a skill that is arguably more important that having all the scouting skills.


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    Sea Scout Leader richardnhunt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by claire.shadbolt View Post
    The aim of the skills module is to demonstrate that the delegate can facilitate learning. Which is a skill that is arguably more important that having all the scouting skills.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    As long as someone, somewhere has the underlying skill

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    Quote Originally Posted by oneiros View Post
    My Scouts let out an almighty groan when I suggest we might be doing knot- or map-work; these are core skills in which they have no real interest.
    I am totally with your Scouts. I detest the terms knot-work and map-work and I cringe whenever I see them on a programme. We don't do knot-work, we make stuff. OK it needs 3 minutes at the start to show a good strong way to do the job, and somebody who knows being on hand to help them get it right, or right enough. But that's not work. And maybe we need 20 minutes at the start of a hike, with a bit of landscape in front of us, to explain to newbies the basic idea of how a map is a picture of the landscape, and refining that idea as we go around. But that's not work.

    Edit: Sorry, I meant to say, the psychology is important. We're going to do knot-work. Brain slips into neutral. We're going to make a catapult. Brain in gear.
    Last edited by JohnR; 14-03-2018 at 08:48 AM. Reason: Brain in gear.
    John Russell
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    Senior Member oneiros's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by claire.shadbolt View Post
    The aim of the skills module is to demonstrate that the delegate can facilitate learning. Which is a skill that is arguably more important that having all the scouting skills.
    I agree, and I'm not suggesting Module 18 should be removed.

    But there is, I believe, a very clear need for the Movement to provide access for leaders to be able to learn these skills, in order to be able to pass them on to the young people. Ideally this would be through the Section itself, with inexperienced leaders learning from the old-timers; where turnover is high, this is impossible and thus it falls to the District (or County?) to ensure its leaders have adequate training.

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