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Actual Failing would be dropping out of the program without gaining anything significant from it. That is something adult volunteers should definitely NOT let happen, but it is often our fault because we don't provide appropriate challenge to individual scouts.
The Scouting program succeeds by challenging scouts to push their abilities. What is challenging for one scout may be boringly easy or frustratingly difficult for another. One scout may be ready to navigate 30 miles, cross-country, in a blizzard, at night. Another may be challenged to point north at high noon. Our challenge is to challenge each scout in ways that help avoid failure.
This simple graph keeps me focused on this concept. The slope is the difficulty of what the scout is being expected to do - the steeper the slope, the more difficult that activity. Every scout (every person) has a built-in graph like this, set specifically to their interests, abilities, and aptitudes. If too little is asked, it's boring and I'll find something else to do. If it's easy, I won't learn much new but I can help others. If it's challenging, I gain from it and can help others gain a little, too. If it's strenuous, all my effort will be to learn and I won't be helping others. If it's so difficult for me that it is frustrating, I'll not learn it and most likely eventually find something else to do that is fun.
As scouts gain skills and experience, their graph will get steeper. Those activities that were challenging may now be boring.
No activity will fall into the challenging area for every scout, but it may be easy, challenging, or strenuous for nearly all of them. That allows most of them to gain something from the activity. We get into trouble when activities are always geared at the same center of mass for the troop - those advanced scouts get bored of things always being easy and inexperienced scouts get tired of never doing very well.
Patrols of similar-aged scouts allow a smaller group with more closely matched skills to do activities together. This removes a lot of the frustrating, easy, and boring areas. Some scouts will be ahead or behind their patrolmates, but not as much as an entire troop.
High adventure treks help with advanced scouts falling in the easy area too often. Finding other ways to challenge them is important. Constantly asking them to "help the younger scouts" gets old fast.
The ultimate way to ensure each scout is properly challenged would be to track his current skills, interests, and needs, and then have a way to map that to planned activities so every scout gets exactly what he needs. I don't think that's practical, but holler if you've figured out how to do it. Instead, we can plan opportunities that will help nearly everyone.
Other ways to help keep scouts in the challenging zone:
- Talk with each scout. Be aware of his current rank and what he should be generally working towards next. Be aware of what he tends to find easy or difficult, whether it's public communication or knots.
- Hold Skill Sessions for a set time at troop meetings or campouts where any scout can get help with up to First Class skills. Either advanced scouts or adults (if no scouts know the skills) provide the help.
- Create incentives for scouts to help others. Some advancement requirements include this, but there are other ways to make helping "the younger scouts" more fun. Just keeping a sheet of signatures from every scout that comes to him for help might be enough for some scouts, or a prize for every 10 or 20 scouts helped, or a spoof merit badge, or a public Thank You at courts of honor.
- Be a Lurker. On outings, don't just sit and drink coffee. Watch the scouts and keep an eye out for ones that appear uninterested or frustrated, especially when skills are being put to use.
- Any other ideas? Share as a comment below.
As the graphs tend to show, Discouragement is a much easier target to hit than Motivation. It's important to make efforts to keep Scouting time focused close to that challenging zone for every scout.
Already tired of winter vacation?
Bored with your current job?
The week after Christmas is a great time to think about new opportunities. As a scout with lots of outdoors skills, leadership qualities, and interpersonal communications, there are lots of openings for you to work in exciting, adventurous settings.
Whether you are a high school or college student, or looking for full-time work, there are many needs across the country that you can take on. Here are a few...
All the BSA high adventure bases need staff every year:
More BSA jobs:
Outside of the BSA program, there are even more jobs that a Scout might find interesting, challenging, and rewarding:
- Boundary Waters Outfitter
- Appalachian Trail Ridge Runners interact with A.T. hikers to improve the trail experience.
- National Park Service has thousands of outdoor jobs.
- Forest Service
- Department of State has a long list of sites where you can find outdoors jobs.
- Coolworks lists outdoor jobs
If you don't want to work this summer, you could Hike a Long Trail or Bike across the country.
Or, you could always stock shelves at the local grocery store. I did it, most boring job I ever had.
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of WASPcam™. All opinions are 100% mine.
Who takes pictures and records your outings?
I have hundreds of photos that we've used in slide shows, web posts, ceremonies, and recruiting. It's fun to occasionally send an old photo to a past scout that is now out in the real world. He gets a kick out of seeing himself and his buddies as 'kids'. But, most of those shots are of static scenes since I've not been able to participate and record the activity at the same time.
To really share the adventure and excitement of a fun outing, video works much better than photos. Action-Sports cameras capture first person participation and put the viewer right in the adventure - and it's easier than you might think. The new WASPcam™ 9907 4K camera does an exceptional job of replacing your old digital camera with high quality videos. And, it's so small, sturdy, and easy, you can pass it off to a scout to record the more extreme activities your troop does.
This WASPcam™ records High Definition video in 1080p, 2K, or 4K with many programmable options such as time-lapse, motion detection, and loop recording. It also takes up to 20megapixel still photos in single, burst, or time delay mode. For extra control, it has WiFi connectivity and a smartphone app that allows you to remotely control the camera so YOU can be in the picture or video with your gang.
A key feature of the WASPcam™ 9907 4K is that it is waterproof - without requiring an extra case. This means snow sports, water sports, fishing trips, and rainy campouts are no longer a concern.
The camera itself is small and light (about 5oz.), and stealth black color. It comes with mounting fixtures to adhere it to your helmet. There are also a wide range of camera mount options so you can easily swap it between your helmet, handlebar, dashboard, tripod, surfboard, chest, head, or even your dog's back, whatever makes sense for the moment.
I've found that videos when mounted on a helmet or person are much smoother than when directly attached to handlebars or vehicle since the person absorbs a lot of the bumps and jolts of the trail.
I found this camera to be very easy to use and a huge win over my digital camera and smartphone pictures and videos. It's very cool how crisp the images are, even moving activity. I really like the time lapse video, compressing an hour into a minute or less by taking a frame every 1, 3, or 5 seconds. The motion detection feature lets you set it and automatically catch .5, 1, or 5 minutes of any activity that happens, whether it's an animal walking by or hikers passing on the trail. I've included a snip of these below.
So, my favorite features of this action camera are:
- Waterproof and sturdy so it's usable anywhere with no concern about weather or rough handling.
- Range of recording options to change image clarity and storage use.
- 20MP photos are big and sharp.
- It's small, unobtrusive, and mountable many different ways.
This item would make a great gift for anyone that spends time outdoors and likes to share their adventures. There are a few things that I didn't enjoy:
- The automatic motion detection mode seems to only notice movement just a few feet away. A deeper range would be more useful.
- The optional smartphone app wasn't as useful as I hoped. It only starts and stops video recording and snaps photos, but you get to be in the picture!
- The user manual is unusable for me because of the tiny font, but here's a link to the User Manual PDF which is fine.
There's a video of my impressions of the camera on youtube with unpacking, setup, and sample video captures.
The National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act just became law! So?
Well, it directs the USDA to significantly increase the role of volunteers in trail maintenance projects. That means more opportunities for scouts to step up and provide assistance to the Forest Service to improve trail access to national public lands. Your scouts can contribute through eagle service projects, Hornaday projects, or general conservation work.
One of the most fun camping trips I've done was 3 days with a handful of scouts building part of the North Country National Scenic Trail.
This Act directs the USDA to figure out how to get more volunteers, have volunteer opportunities, and increase volunteer trail maintenance by 100% in 5 years.
They will also identify about a dozen areas where the lack of trail maintenance is severely affecting access to public lands, and work on fixing those problems. This could be blowdowns, eroded trails, anything that is preventing trail usage.
Plan Ahead Now - start thinking about conservation work your scouts can do next spring and summer. Contact your local USFS folks - start at the Region Office and ask them about how you can help.
PS: Did you know that two beings have their own personal zip codes in the United States? One is the president. Post a comment when you figure out who the other is.
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