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New Scouts and Listening Issues
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Mack Regan
(JRegan12) - F

Locale: Southwest
New Scouts and Listening Issues on 10/25/2009 22:08:15 MDT Print View

I am currently the SPL of my troop and we recently took a short backpacking trip up in the Flagstaff area of AZ. Two kids new to backpacking came along. One had actually already been on a backpacking trip. We had a month (4 meeting) dedicated to backpacking so as not to have anyone over pack/ under pack, etc. The two scouts along with about 4 middle scouts (12-13 years) brought about 40 pounds of gear for our 10 mile trip. We shook them down at base camp. About a mile into the trek the two new backpackers couldn't go any farther. We thought it was just because they were telling themselves they couldn't do it. About 3.5 hours later we got to the campsite and we opened their packs and the 4 middle scouts. Turns out every single one of them put the stuff we took out of their pack right back into it.

How do I, as a SPL, deal with this issue of listening to instructions?

P.S. I have redone the entire troop so that it is communication crazy. Phone trees, e-mails, paper handouts, announcements to adults.

Edited by JRegan12 on 10/26/2009 11:21:35 MDT.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
New Scouts and Listening Issues on 10/25/2009 22:32:11 MDT Print View

If you made them carry it in and out, they may have learned their lesson. Some extra time on kitchen patrol might help too.

Adam Rothermich
(aroth87) - F

Locale: Missouri Ozarks
Re: New Scouts and Listening Issues on 10/26/2009 07:20:11 MDT Print View

When I was SPL I ran into a similar issue. We also spent plenty of time at the meetings going over what was needed and what to leave behind. We had a shake down the week before our little trip but wouldn't you know, stuff migrated back into packs. The most extreme example is the kid whose mom packed his pack for him. She wasn't at the shake down meeting and just loaded it up with whatever her son might need to stay safe and comfortable. Lucky for him the loop we were hiking passed relatively near the vehicles about half way through and my brother and I carried two extra pair of clothes (consisting of jeans, t-shirts, socks, and underwear), an extra cotton sweater (we let him keep one), brand new roll of toilet paper, and a number of other items back to the cars. The two miles my brother and I walked with all of his stuff gave him time to recover.

As has been said, the best thing you can let them do is let them learn through experience. Now that they've experience what its like to carry a heavy load (and hopefully seen people having a more enjoyable time with lighter packs after following the advice that was given) they'll think twice when loading their packs for next time. Or maybe not let their mother pack the whole thing for them :P.


Jace Mullen
(climberslacker) - F

Locale: Your guess is as good as mine.
What we do. on 10/26/2009 10:40:45 MDT Print View

I just finished my 2nd term of 6 months as SPL. During those 6 months, I converted our troop from a troop who goes on a little baby 8 miler once a year to a troop doing lots of fun bakpacking trips (about 5 while I was in office) The way we dealed with it was that we would weigh the packs, before we left and if they weighed more then 30% of their body wiehgt they couldnt go, Easy as that. I have sucsessfully gotten lots of members of our troop down to sub 20 lbs pack, but thats without shelter (So-Cal). I was present at the planning meeting and me and my SM got together, and made a list of activities we wanted to do, and the SPL liked it so i knjow we will be doing 4 backpacking trips (Including San Gorgonio, and San Jacinto)

Hope this helps!

-Jace Mullen
Troop 784
Carlsbad, Ca

Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Re: New Scouts and Listening Issues on 10/26/2009 10:42:55 MDT Print View

Look towards advice on how to be a better communicator and leader. It's beyond the scope of what I'm going to write here.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: What we do. on 10/26/2009 15:11:14 MDT Print View

Hi Jace

> if they weighed more then 30% of their body wiehgt they couldnt go

I would make that 25% for kids. Their bones aren't that strong. And I would check (again) at the track-head.

But the rule is a VERY good one. Simple, clean, obvious.


Jace Mullen
(climberslacker) - F

Locale: Your guess is as good as mine.
Mack. on 10/26/2009 19:29:25 MDT Print View

If you PM me, i can give you some tips i learned as SPL, maybe they will help, and maybe not. But I am "Special Advisor to the SPL" in my troop right now, as I have the most experience.


John Smith
(Thyreffa) - F
Re:New Scouts and Listening Issues on 10/28/2009 17:37:55 MDT Print View

I'm a venturer in aus, i think thats senior scout in america, anyway.......i help out with the younger groups alot with their bakpacking trips and the hardest thing i find is that their parents pack their own packs, so we generally meet at the den the night before, go thru their stuff and pull out what they dont need and lock it in the den

Unfortunately, as you said somehow it ends back in their packs, so we generally take em out for a short hike at the start of hiking season (autum-spring), about 15kms over 2 days to give them an indication of how overloaded their packs are. they should learn by experience after that

(cuzzettj) - MLife

Locale: NorCal - South Bay
RE: "New Scouts and Listening Issues" on 10/28/2009 18:13:10 MDT Print View

Try to take your young/new Scouts out for a weekend shakedown campout. As an ASM I used this with a Patrol and it worked well. We rewarded them by working on there outdoor skills. We used the Patrol Method and everything they did, they did themselves. Even if it meant we (2 adult leaders and a new 1st Class Scout) were bored out of our minds. We used the 1st Class Scout as a teacher and judge for there skills. It helped him with his hands on leadership skills and we only butted in if we needed to get them all back on track.

I know meal time prep, eating, and clean up went from several hours to less than 30 minutes by the last day. They also learned to plan the meals more sensibly.

Have them pack up each morning as if they were hiking and moving camp so they can see what works and doesn't. Take them on a short hike of two to 4 miles and then have them reset up camp.

Have them log everything they use as buddies durring the day. I enforced a strict 2 man rule for everything. On the last morning have them place everything they didn't use/didn't need in a seperate bag. Have the boys compare those lists. Then have them make a Patrol list of what they don't need and what they are missing.

Repack on the last morning without all of the things they don't need. Get their feedback on what they think of their pack weight now.

Eventually you will have a Patrol that leads the way. It has happened with this particular group of boys.

Also - some great projects to lighten them up that you can do at camp are:

Tyvek ground sheet making
Tarp shelter building
Stuff sack making - tie it in with a UL First Aid Kit
Stretcher building and races
Search and Rescue (a great game and Patrol Team builder. PM me for more information.)

Remember to keep it fun. The aim is to make you a better leader. You have to teach your Patrol Leaders what you know and let the lead too.

I always wanted to do a leadership only weekend. Maybe someday.

YIS - Jason

Jace Mullen
(climberslacker) - F

Locale: Your guess is as good as mine.
New scouts and listening on 10/28/2009 18:29:17 MDT Print View

Just to let you know, the senior scout program has been replaced with the venturing program as of 1998 in the USA. I have nothing else toa dd


Roger Tate
(rogertate) - F

Locale: North Texas
For Mack on 11/04/2009 15:05:00 MST Print View


I don't know if this will help you or not, but here goes. You identified the problem in the original post as "not listening". Now I wasn't on the outing, so I don't know for sure, but I'd like to toss out a different interpretation for you to think about. The real issue may not be that they didn't listen, but that they didn't "trust" or "believe" what they were told. How many times a day does the typical 11-13 year old get warned about something bad that might happen to you and then it almost never turns out that bad. You know from experience that carrying a heavy pack is almost always a bad idea. Your younger scouts don't have your experience and therefore didn't take your warnings seriously. They have now learned to trust you a little more.

Now, on a practical note, I really liked Jason Cuzzetto's ideas for training new scouts. If I could give you another simple rule to consider, it would be this. "No new scout can go with the troop on an overnight backpacking trip longer than 5 miles until he has qualified on a 2-3 mile overnight backpacking trip."

Good luck