The change from WEBELOS Scouts (adult led) to Boy Scouts (youth led) can be an intimidating transition for young boys. Some don't comprehend that "boy leaders" are LEARNING to lead, so the Scoutmaster doesn't expect to see (nor should they) the troop executing as smoothly as adult-ran WEBELOS dens.
WEBELOS is meant to be a transitional phase from Cubbing to Boy Scouting, but all too often most WEBELOS dens ran exactly the same as the other Cub dens, but with different uniforms. Understandably, the concept of "boy led" is intimidating for 11 year olds, let alone a 9 or 10 year old 1st year WEBELOS. Let's not fault those dedicated WEBELOS Den Leaders, rather let's accept that young boys simply need a little more time (and help) to adjust away from the only "way" of Scouting they've known for 5 years. So what's the best way to blend boys into a Boy Scout troop and get them used to "organized chaos"?
At Troop 247 we have crafted a blend of extra adult interaction from one of our Assistant Scout Masters who is dedicated to the 1st year program. He is assisted by experienced older Boy Scouts who serve as "Troop Guides" and "Instructors", to keep the 1st year Scouts focused on learning Scout skills and rank advancement, while also exposing them to the boy-led ways that a BSA Troop operates. We call it, "First Class in the First Year".
As you will learn as you delve more into the Boy Scout program, the first 4 ranks of Boy Scouting (Scout, Tenderfoot, 2nd Class, 1st Class) are heavily focused on safety and getting them used to the Boy Scout handshake, Oath, Law, Outdoor Code, etc. Along the way they have opportunities to work on Merit Badges, but their main focus is to learn basic Scout Skills so that they can go on to "do" Scouting safely and confidently in their respective patrol. IT WORKS!!
Why does it work so well?
- Dedicated Assistant Scoutmaster for 1st Year Program
- Still a healthy dose of "adult planning" to ensure weekly meetings are organized and productive, which is what they are used to
- Experiences the influence of "older Scouts teaching younger Scouts" through the Instructor and Troop Guide youth leadership positions
- March is our annual "ORIENTATION WEEKEND" camping trip, where we camp close to home to get them used to camping without Mom or Dad.
- Constant encouragement via "instant recognition" as they continually complete rank advancements in their handbook, reinforcing the fact that they ARE advancing, learning, and achieving.
- 1st Year boys still interact with all the patrols, under the leadership of the youth Senior Patrol Leader, in the Opening, Closing, and Patrol-time activities
- 1st Year boys function like "regular" patrols in that they elect a Patrol Leader who is an active part in the Patrol Leaders Council (PLC) planning meetings.
- Full participation in Court of Honor events (a formal awards ceremony like "Blue and Gold" but held 3-4 times per year)
Mr. Erik Roese is our highly-experienced "First Class in First Year" ASM.