When Older Scouts Stay Aloof
Edited by Robert Peterson
After a three-year drought of new members, J.R.'s troop has had an influx of new Scouts. "How can we get our older boys to mingle with the new guys and show them what to do, instead of doing it for them because it's easier?" he asked.
This situation is not uncommon, whether "doing it for them" involves older Scouts, adult leaders, or parents. After the new boys learn basic skills in the new Scout patrol, they should be integrated into regular patrols with the older Scouts.
Give the older Scouts junior leader training, with refresher training specifically on teaching younger boys, as needed. As an incentive for the older Scouts, discuss how teaching is part of both the Scout spirit and leadership requirements for advancement.
Of course, you can also use the "You were once a new Scout" approach, too.
Assistant Scoutmaster L.D.B.
Since the troop hasn't recruited new Scouts for some time, there now is a very big age difference between the new Scouts and the existing Scouts. This can work to your advantage and will challenge the leadership skills of the older Scouts.
The Boy Scout program has the activities built into it for the older Scouts to mentor the younger Scouts. To get the ball rolling, the leaders should plan some one-on-one activities or group activities led by older Scouts. Set up the room so that you can have stations led by the older Scouts, and the younger Scouts can rotate in groups to each station.
Unit Commissioner T.C.
There are several solutions to your problem, and they all depend on how the boys interact with each other.
First: In a troop meeting, have the older kids teach the younger kids skills they will need for a future camp-out so they will be prepared for that situation.
Second: Use older boys as troop guides for younger patrols, so the experienced Scouts will interact with the younger ones on a more hands-on basis.
The older boys should not do too much for the younger Scouts, but intermingling the boys in patrols after their first year can help the younger kids learn more.
The Scoutmaster Handbook offers some good advice regarding what older Scouts can do to welcome younger boys into their troop:
"Older boys are a tremendous resource for Scouting. They often have the knowledge, experience, and maturity to be leaders and to serve as role models for younger boys. They energize Scout activities, bringing depth and quality that help ensure a strong, vibrant program for all members."
And this: "Older Scouts will have plenty of chances to share Scouting skills with younger boys, helping them complete rank requirements and giving them guidance on hikes, camp-outs, and other adventures."
Urge your patrol leaders' council to promote the idea that older Scouts owe it to their troop to share their experience with younger kids. Also stress the fact that this provides a special opportunity for the experienced boys to hone their own leadership skills.
Troop Committee Member R.S.
September 2002 Table of Contents
Copyright © 2002 by the Boy Scouts of America. All rights thereunder reserved; anything appearing in Scouting magazine or on its Web site may not be reprinted either wholly or in part without written permission. Because of freedom given authors, opinions may not reflect official concurrence.