Tuesday, November 8, 2011

At thier own pace

In the last few days I've held two scoutmaster conferences for Second Class. One for a boy whose 12th birthday is later this month, the other is probably going to make Star before his own 12th birthday next spring. (In LDS units, there's a patrol for eleven-year-old boys, and once they turn 12, they don't associate with that patrol anymore.) Both have been owned by their football coaches since August.  Is there a difference between the boys? Other than age? Well, apart from one playing defensive tackle and the other running back, not really.

This is a fantastic example of boys progressing at their own rate. Who said that all boys MUST earn First Class in the first year? Where is that written? If that is the only measuring stick, then the boys and I have failed. And that's just silly. Granted, it's one of my goals to give them the opportunity to get there, but I decided I won't get heartburn over it. (And yes, I know all about the rationale of how getting to that point is an indicator of finishing.) It's not about what I want, it's about their individual development, and that is independent of rank advancement.

You have until you're 18 to complete Eagle, (or Denali, or 21 in the case of Venturing Silver) unless your parents impose some draconian driver license stipulation (which I disagree with, but that's their decision to make). What I tried to make clear to both the speed-demon and the soon-to-be 12-year-old is that they have plenty of time to accomplish their goals (Scouting and otherwise) and to enjoy the ride; that it's about finishing what you started,  just like playing your heart out for a full 60 minutes. If you enjoy it, advancement will happen. If you race through it, checking off boxes as fast as possible just for the sake of finishing, you'll wind up like Nemo's tank-mates, bobbing in the ocean in plastic bags and wondering, "Now what?".

1 comment:

Tory said...

I agree that boys must progress at their own rate. If pushed too hard, kids at that age more than often push back or rebel.

But since you asked, it's written in a couple places:
2011 Guide to Advancement (http://www.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/33088.pdf) Section 4.2.1.0 - "Well-delivered programming will take boys to First Class in their first year of membership."

Also the LDS Scouting Handbook (http://lds.org/bc/content/shared/content/english/pdf/scouting-handbook-2011.pdf?lang=eng) p. 4 - "Eleven-year old Scouts participate in rank advancement. They are encouraged to achieve the rank of First Class before turning twelve years old."

It is written, but not as a hard and fast rule. It is encouraged.