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Thread: A tale of two scouts

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    Senior Member CambridgeSkip's Avatar
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    A tale of two scouts

    So last weekend I was on camp with my merry band of men and women and by the end of it two particular scouts had caught my attention, both for very different reasons. Both present things that need a little attention, and I have my ideas about what to do with both of them, but I thought I would see what the collective wisdom of this esteemed forum would through up. In both cases I was already aware of the issues but a weekend on camp really shone a light on them.

    Scout number 1. 13 year old, female patrol leader. Quietly spoken. Genuinely nice kid. Been all the way through from a 6 year old beaver. Got made a PL at Easter on the recommendation of the PLs council. She's very competent, can look after herself, knows what she and everyone else needs to be doing. Has an absolute heart of gold. Trouble is that she find telling other people what to do very difficult. She's not making the classic new PL mistake of thinking that she needs to do it all herself, she knows she should be, it's just that she has told me she finds it awkward telling other people what they should be doing.

    I have some ideas about how to help her do that (bearing in mind she's a 13 year old and not a cadet at Sandhurst!) but thought I'd forage elsewhere.

    Scout number 2. Also 13 years old, but there the similarity ends. He's the total polar opposite of scout 1. Came into scouts aged 12, quite a gob on him. His problem is he's very much "me, me, me." He wants to do everything, but doesn't want to put the work in. On camp it was him doing the moaning when they were walking up from the station to the campsite, him that kept dodging his chores, him that had to be told multiple times to do anything. Basically zero work ethic, zero team ethic. And the problem is we're now in a viscious circle, because he's annoyed the other kids and he's starting to get pushed out the gang. I tried having a word in his shell, explaining that he was winding up the other kids, but it didn't seem to sink in. When he did (briefly) pull his weight, he looked at me for approval, not the rest of the troop. He kind of missed the point.

    Again, I have some ideas on how to tackle this but thought I'd see what you chaps think as well.

    Actually one similarity between them, scout 1's dad is group treasurer, scout 2's mum is a troop assistant.

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    This may only help with Scout #1...

    One of the things we did with the previous batch of PL's was really advertise - as in repeat often during meetings - that PL's operated with the full authority of leaders. We'd announce that at the beginning of the night for everyone to hear. After a while, it did begin to sink in with the patrol leaders and the other young folk they were supposed to lead.

    We also went big on the responsibility of being a PL, leading from the front and all that. Must admit, that didn't get quite so much traction.

    Our PL's at the time were all very meek, I'd say it worked with 2 out of 4 though. They've all since become Explorers/YL's, and they're pretty decent to have around as a missing link between leaders and scouts. Two of them run the tuck shop at the end of meetings and if we need to, they'll also get scouts formed up for flag break and run activity bases.

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    The unpaid help ASLChris's Avatar
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    One technique that might help with both scouts is to encourage PLs to ASK others to do tasks rather than TELL them. Scout 1 will feel less self conscious in doing it and Scout 2 will be reminded that he has to pull his weight.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ASLChris View Post
    One technique that might help with both scouts is to encourage PLs to ASK others to do tasks rather than TELL them. Scout 1 will feel less self conscious in doing it and Scout 2 will be reminded that he has to pull his weight.
    What Chris said with added focus on team building challenges and working in patrols.
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    Senior Member bernwood's Avatar
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    With Scout 2 - It's important you don't single him out in front of the other scout as this will just alienate him further, I would move him into another patrol with a PL that can put gentle pressure on him that they operate as a team and not an individual. I would also run some team work exercises that show the benefits of being a team and the problems that can occur if you don't. A sample of this is a challenge we did with our group last weekend they were tasked to light a fire boil a billy to make all in their team a hot drink, and then tidy away and leave no trace of the the fire - all in 20 mins. One group made a whacking great fire, boiled there billy, put out the fire using most of the water they had just boiled and then tried rather unsuccessfully to scatter the ashes. - The other team dug a small hole lit their fire in it, boiled there billly, then collapsed the fire in on itself and buried it again - a bit of a shakedown at the end explained the virtues of team work.

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    "a PL that can put gentle pressure on him that they operate as a team and not an individual."

    Last found one of those 10 years ago before the age range changes sadly

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    Senior Member bernwood's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr_Pepper View Post
    "a PL that can put gentle pressure on him that they operate as a team and not an individual."

    Last found one of those 10 years ago before the age range changes sadly
    I take your point on that one, the change of age down from 16 to 14 was the one of the worst ideas the SA ever had.

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    GSL & AESL shiftypete's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bernwood View Post
    I take your point on that one, the change of age down from 16 to 14 was the one of the worst ideas the SA ever had.
    For clarity even when we had Venture Scouts you couldn't have 16 year old Scouts, most Scouts that moved to Ventures did so around 15.5 and they had to move before they were 16. However actually most Scouts never made it that far as they left before being old enough to move to Ventures.
    Last edited by shiftypete; 22-05-2019 at 07:29 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by shiftypete View Post
    For clarity when we had Venture Scouts you couldn't have 16 year old Scouts, most Scouts that moved to Ventures did so around 15.5 and they had to move before they were 16. However actually most Scouts never made it that far as they left before being old enough to move to Ventures.
    One of the problems that I had as a VSL was Scout Leaders wanting to keep Scouts to 16 and even beyond.

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    Quote Originally Posted by shiftypete View Post
    most Scouts never made it that far as they left before being old enough to move to Ventures.
    Speak for yourselves, maybe something wasnt working in your area, or maybe even that was a national trend I dont know the stats, but certainly not in every area.

    I found it was exactly that - giving the PLs responsibility and giving them freedom to run their patrol, especially at camp that made them stay

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr_Pepper View Post
    I found it was exactly that - giving the PLs responsibility and giving them freedom to run their patrol, especially at camp that made them stay
    Oh yeah the PLs tended to be the ones that stayed but what about all those that weren't PLs and/or didn't get to be a PL on camp?
    The national figures for retention through Scouts to Venture Scouts were apalling by the end.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr_Pepper View Post
    "a PL that can put gentle pressure on him that they operate as a team and not an individual."

    Last found one of those 10 years ago before the age range changes sadly
    You...know the age range change was 2002 (roughly) right? Seventeen years ago. Seventeen! Doesn't time fly when you're having fun/watching the desecration of the patrol method?
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    Quote Originally Posted by shiftypete View Post
    Oh yeah the PLs tended to be the ones that stayed but what about all those that weren't PLs and/or didn't get to be a PL on camp?
    The national figures for retention through Scouts to Venture Scouts were apalling by the end.
    Maybe so, but was there any research done into why that was the case? Or did someone just decide that it was a problem with age.

    I suspect it was also to do with the program stagnating, and it not being able to effectively deal with ten year olds and fifteen year olds in the same section. Interestingly (or not), by changing the age ranges, they sort of removed one of the main tenets of scouting - the patrol system, and having older scouts lead younger scouts. All we were left with were younger scouts. We've not had what you'd regard as the classic effective PL in place for years. (Although, I'd accept that's also to do with how we run, but not entirely.)

    I'm ambiguous about that change, there were both positives and negative about it.

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    Some thoughts on scout #1, in the hope you get some responses on scout #2..!

    Seems she's ready to be let in on the 'secrets' of leadership, which are not that different (possibly) from how you lead the troop. Some things she could bear in mind:
    1. most scouts are happy to help, but many don't know how to. As a PL, one of your strengths is experience, so you know what needs to be done. Some scouts will actually appreciate some direction and guidance.
    2. all scouts like approval, even if it is from someone they don't particularly like. Recognition and thanks should go hand-in-hand with getting people to do stuff. "Thank you, good job" will make it much easier to ask for the next thing to be done. (My former boss had a habit, which I sometimes use with scouts, of asking for something and saying thank you immediately, without pausing. Can be effective - e.g. "I know you didn't drop that crisp packet - could you pick it up and put it in the bin , thanks very much". Means the scout feels good about doing it even before they've finished doing it).
    3. Pad the request with something else. Morals aren't particularly effective ("it's your turn to wash up, smithy; if you don't do it it's not fair on the others"), indirect consequences somewhat effective ("so we can go play football, can you get started on the washing up"). Direct consequences good ("so our stuff doesn't get wet if it rains, can you lace/zip up all the tent doors"). Altruism? - "It would be great if you could help smithy and show him how to hammer in the [remaining 54] tent pegs").
    4. 'heads I win, tails you lose, you pick': giving a choice where you win either way ("Could you zip up the tents, and do the washing up... or you can do it the other way round, your choice") (see also, "would you like your vegetables on top of your pie, or beside them?", etc.)
    5. Confidence: you will be seen as a better leader if you demonstrate confidence (to a certain degree) -- "I have selected you as PL because you know enough skills and have the right attitude to be a leader - give it a go, and be positive".

    Drip feed one or two of those in, as circumstances permit and hopefully things will improve. Obviously don't forget to say 'well done' to her when she has managed to get her patrol to do things.

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    GSL & AESL shiftypete's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post
    Maybe so, but was there any research done into why that was the case? Or did someone just decide that it was a problem with age.

    I suspect it was also to do with the program stagnating, and it not being able to effectively deal with ten year olds and fifteen year olds in the same section. Interestingly (or not), by changing the age ranges, they sort of removed one of the main tenets of scouting - the patrol system, and having older scouts lead younger scouts. All we were left with were younger scouts. We've not had what you'd regard as the classic effective PL in place for years. (Although, I'd accept that's also to do with how we run, but not entirely.)

    I'm ambiguous about that change, there were both positives and negative about it.
    You say that but Cambridge Skip for one has had effective PLs with the current age range as they have been able to run patrol camps on NA passports so its evidently possible still although I accept it is harder now. However think the way we were going we would have ended up with young PLs anyway as ost of the older kids would have left.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by daveh01 View Post
    Some thoughts on scout #1, in the hope you get some responses on scout #2..!

    Seems she's ready to be let in on the 'secrets' of leadership, which are not that different (possibly) from how you lead the troop. Some things she could bear in mind:
    1. most scouts are happy to help, but many don't know how to. As a PL, one of your strengths is experience, so you know what needs to be done. Some scouts will actually appreciate some direction and guidance.
    2. all scouts like approval, even if it is from someone they don't particularly like. Recognition and thanks should go hand-in-hand with getting people to do stuff. "Thank you, good job" will make it much easier to ask for the next thing to be done. (My former boss had a habit, which I sometimes use with scouts, of asking for something and saying thank you immediately, without pausing. Can be effective - e.g. "I know you didn't drop that crisp packet - could you pick it up and put it in the bin , thanks very much". Means the scout feels good about doing it even before they've finished doing it).
    3. Pad the request with something else. Morals aren't particularly effective ("it's your turn to wash up, smithy; if you don't do it it's not fair on the others"), indirect consequences somewhat effective ("so we can go play football, can you get started on the washing up"). Direct consequences good ("so our stuff doesn't get wet if it rains, can you lace/zip up all the tent doors"). Altruism? - "It would be great if you could help smithy and show him how to hammer in the [remaining 54] tent pegs").
    4. 'heads I win, tails you lose, you pick': giving a choice where you win either way ("Could you zip up the tents, and do the washing up... or you can do it the other way round, your choice") (see also, "would you like your vegetables on top of your pie, or beside them?", etc.)
    5. Confidence: you will be seen as a better leader if you demonstrate confidence (to a certain degree) -- "I have selected you as PL because you know enough skills and have the right attitude to be a leader - give it a go, and be positive".

    Drip feed one or two of those in, as circumstances permit and hopefully things will improve. Obviously don't forget to say 'well done' to her when she has managed to get her patrol to do things.
    This is some top advice

    Peter Andrews AESL of Headingley Pirates ESU, Group Scout Leader & Webmaster of Falkoner Scout Group
    www.falkonerscouts.org.uk

    Previous Scouting Roles
    2003 - 2013 ABSL
    2017-2018 AGSL

    Wike, North Leeds District Campsite - www.wikecampsite.org.uk
    www.leeds-solar.co.uk
    Please note all views expressed are my own and not those of any organisation I'm associated with

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