The last 2 years of Cub Scouting have the boys working more on specific areas that will help ‘prepare’ them for the world of Boy Scouting. If you are lucky, the den might even go on some more rustic camping trips or even join a Boy Scout group on a campout as they begin to discern which Troop they will cross-over into as 5th grade comes to a close.
Transitioning into Boy Scouts
That first year of Boy Scouting can be a big ‘wake-up’ event for a boy. Where Cub Scouting is led by adults, Boy Scouts has adults in more of a mentoring position. There are clear guidelines for what skills a boy must gain to advance in rank. But, the responsibility for doing it and what the Troop will do are all set by the boys.
That is not to say that adults can not help point a boy in the right direction. One of mine is highly distractible. So when he has to make sure certain things are done for advancement, we talk about what he is supposed to be doing on the way to the meeting. Occasionally, I’ve had to get an older Scout to help him find the right person for the task. If the boys were in a smaller Troop (ours has around 75 boys right now), then he might need less resetting for direction. But, I look at the little prodding I do now as making the footprint impression on his back that one Scout leader said he’s seen on many an Eagle Scout’s back.
Where there are often arts and crafts in Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts has much more focus upon outdoor adventures (e.g. camping and hiking) as well as ample opportunity for gaining leadership skills. Once the boy has acquired all of the ‘basic’ Boy Scout skills that are tied with the first 4 ranks, he puts more focus on acquiring specific knowledge and skills through earning merit badges and leadership skills gained by holding positions in the Troop.
As I mentioned, the first 4 ranks earned in Boy Scouts have a focus upon the acquisition of skills considered essential to Boy Scouts. Aside from getting each requirement signed off, the boy has to complete a Scoutmaster Conference (with the Scoutmaster or an Assistant Scoutmaster) and then sit for a Board of Review.
The Board of Review gets many a Scout nervous as it is an interview situation with 3 adults on the Troop Committee. Just being able to manage yourself in an interview is an important life skill and I am sure that many a Boy Scout appreciates having practiced this skill several times by the time they begin to interview for jobs or schools.
Pictured below are the ranks (L to R) Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class. Clicking on the photo will bring you to the requirements for each rank.
Once the Boy Scout reaches First Class, the ability to advance in rank is tied to a few basic areas: merit badges earned, time in leadership, and time spent in community service. The higher the rank, the more that is required.
P is currently a Star Scout with just a little time left in rank to go for Life Scout. Here’s a photo from the last Court of Honor where he was recognized as a Star Scout. The outgoing Scoutmaster was making a point of emphasizing just what an achievement it is for Scouts to reach those higher ranks as so many other activities can vie for their attention.
Eventually, the boy reaches the point of earning Eagle. This final rank advancement has far more expected from them and is not earned by all who are Boy Scouts. The Troop the boys are in does see a larger number of boys earning Eagle before they age out. Right now, there are a few boys in the Troop who were not near the point of aging out when they earned Eagle and they are now earning Palms by continuing in leadership and earning merit badges. They serve as a wonderful example for the younger Scouts and are quite likely part of the reason why this Troop has more Eagle Scouts than we saw in the lower 48.
The opportunity for leadership can be varied. Most of the positions are in the Troop and allow the Troop to function. The position that can be highly coveted by those boys who want to lead is that of Senior Patrol Leader. This is a big job, akin to being President of the Troop, with the need to not only run Patrol Leader Meetings and be able to work with the active adults, but also to motivate the other boys to get the job at hand done. Depending upon the size of the Troop, you could have several Patrol Leaders that provide the same leadership on a smaller scale. These positions are all elected by the boys and you’ll definitely see some popularity contests going on during elections. Other positions that the boys’ Troop elect are Quartermasters (they have 4 given the size of the Troop and how much equipment needs to be managed) and Assistant Senior Patrol Leader (think VP, in this Troop it is the boy who came in 2nd place for Senior Patrol Leader.)
There are still more jobs to be had that get appointed by the Scoutmaster. Chaplain’s Aide provides services on camp-outs and can do opening and closing prayers at Troop functions. P had this job at the first Troop he was in here and they had him praying at every single Troop meeting. The Troop they are in now only does the prayer time at Courts of Honor and campouts. Secretary is another job that he held which entailed taking minutes at the monthly Patrol Leader meeting. Right now, we have so many boys that reached First Class and needed a leadership position that the Troop has multiple secretaries and they are now taking attendance at each Troop meeting. Librarian was P’s last position in the Troop. With all the merit badge ‘university and lock-in events this winter, it kept him busy most meetings helping boys borrow books instead of having to buy each one. Not every Troop has an extensive library of merit badge books and this mom was feeling quite blessed to not have to buy every single book anymore.
At the moment, P is in one of the 4 Quartermaster positions. In his first Troop back in Maryland, he held that position. Only in that Troop it was a much smaller job with only a handful of boys in the Troop. He is finding that many meetings now have him back in the ‘cage’ handling equipment as they have had campouts just a few weeks apart as well as the need for inventory and re-organization. While it is more work and responsibility, he has also discovered a perk for being in the Jr. Leader Patrol (SPL, ASPL, and Quartermasters). The Jr. Leaders are freed from the responsibility of grubmaster on Troop campouts with the adult leaders taking on that role for them. So, we’ll just say that they eat much better than some of the patrols who want to make super simple meals or gorge on Clif bars.
Grubmaster is one of those roles that even the younger Boy Scouts can take on for a camping trip. R just did this for the camping trip a few weeks ago and it was an eye opening experience for both of us. He had cash in hand to pay for the food as well as the list of what the patrol had planned for meals. I took him shopping and he was getting some learning about shopping frugally by me. In the end, it might not have mattered as I could have bought the food for far less than the budget. But, some of the Scouts had listed ‘wished for snack foods’ if the budget allowed which helped to put a dent into the allotted money. My lesson for the day was how inefficient having each patrol shop separately is. (If they are all doing pancakes, one big bag of pancake mix from a warehouse store would feed them all for less than each patrol buying individual boxes at the store. For that weekend, they had so much leftover pancake mix that we ended up with one of those giant bags mostly full sent home for our family.) But, this particular task as given does afford the opportunity for boys to learn more about acquiring the necessary materials and the cost to do so.
Finally, another leadership role that is available is that of den chief. When we were in Ohio and Maryland, there were Boy Scouts that took on this role and served as helper and mentor for Cub Scout dens. It definitely takes a special kind of Boy Scout to give up an extra hour or more each week to attend a Cub Scout den meeting and work with the younger boys. The photo below show R learning about tools as a Wolf back in Maryland while his den leader and den chief watch.
For those readers with boys who have been a Boy Scout, what do you feel was the best part of the program?
Come back tomorrow to see what I’ll blog about next with the topic of Scouting with Boys. And, don’t forget to click the button to the left and see what my other TOS Crewmates are blogging about this week. Don’t worry if you can’t read all 325 posts this week….bookmark and keep visiting when time permits!