Advancement Plans for Eleven Year Old Scouts

Over the weekend, I taught my first Scoutmaster and Assistant Scoutmaster Leader Specific Training course.  I think the class went well but kinda felt bad for all the brand new 11-year-old scout leaders who would have benefited from more info specific to their group.  When I say “their group”, I’m referring to an LDS Troop that treats EYO’s a little different than the standard BSA Troop.  Our church breaks this age group out into their own separate patrol since they’re not part of the Young Men’s organization yet (11 year old scouts are still in Primary).  For more details about the LDS approach, read the Eleven Year Old Scouts page on LDS.org.

Looking back on this class, I wish I could have offered some insight on an EYO Advancement strategy like I have thought through for the overall program.  I had never given this training before and honestly, didn’t know I was doing it until 6pm the night before.  So I crammed like crazy to learn the material and incorporate my personal experiences and stories that are essentially represented in these blog postings.  This whole experience made me realize I should be writing about things that help EYO leaders too.  …so here are a few links to get them started.

  • The first link is a 12-month plan that Kris Beldin from the Great Salt Lake council organized as part of his Wood Badge ticket.  From GSLC’s webpage, Kris states:“This plan is developed from a purely observational perspective. I was released shortly after completing my Wood Badge course and writing my ticket to create a 12-month plan to help my 11-year-old Scouts earn their Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class ranks.Please note that this plan is unproven, but I have used the latest requirements in the Official Boy Scout Handbook. Additionally, as with all things in Scouting, having others use, tweak, change and ultimately prove is the beauty of the institution we all love to serve as Scouters. Please try this, change it and give me feedback, my ultimate goal in creating this plan is that this framework will help other Scoutmasters and Assistant Scoutmasters out there, facing the same quandary I faced, to come up with a sound plan of attack to help new Scouts in their first exposure to the program.” 
  • The second is a 4-month activity plan made available by our neighboring council to the south, Utah National Parks.  This approach includes an activity tracking Excel spreadsheet as well.  UNPC’s website reads:“The 4-month Activity plan is a rock-solid, duplicable, easy to follow program that is extremely flexible, greatly accommodates scouts needs, and graciously allows you as the EYO leader to plug into troop, ward, district, and council events whenever you need to. This program repeats multiple times per year so the older scouts can have leadership opportunities to teach the younger scouts, while accommodating both new boys entering the program and older boys aging-out.” 
  • Since this writing, another Scout leader from Texas shared this 12-month calendar that covers every requirement up to First Class, including 3 camps and 10 activities.  The second tab of his Excel spreadsheet also offers a budget for the year.

Regardless of which plan you choose to apply, I hope this gives you new EYO leaders a roadmap for getting your boys from Scout to First Class by the time they turn 12!

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5 Responses to Advancement Plans for Eleven Year Old Scouts

  1. Amber Hall says:

    Do you have an update with the new program that rolled out in 2015?

  2. Tommy K says:

    Why do so many scouters and other leaders in LDS Church units seem to completely reject the idea of Troop Guide as a leadership position in the troop? It seems to me sometimes like there’s this multiple-personality disorder going on where “scouting is the activity arm of the Aaronic Priesthood” and yet local unit leaders modify scouting to such a degree that it’s almost impossible to reconcile with the stuff you learn at Wood Badge and from the official BSA literature. (And that doesn’t only apply to the Troop Guide leadership assignment). In practical terms, it is as though Church units have one troop for EYO scouts and a completely separate troop for 12 and 13 year-olds, and then they’re out of the troop altogether. Even when I’ve been able to persuade folks that the “green book” (Scouting Handbook for Church Units) doesn’t actually say that a member of a priesthood quorum can’t meet as Troop Guide with the 11-y.o. patrol to provide guidance to that patrol’s PL, the separation between the Young Men’s organization and the Primary makes it easy for the EYO Leader to sabotage the idea.

    Given the practical impossibility of making a Troop Guide leadership assignment in an LDS unit, along with the fact that the Varsity and Venturers both are registered as separate units by LDS Chartered Organizations, the effect is that the “emulation” B-P wrote about is all but impossible to achieve. I, for one, don’t believe this was what the Church leaders who created the “green book” intended.

    Are there scouters in LDS units who have successfully implemented the Troop Guide leadership assignment? I’d love to hear from you!

  3. Thomas Culwell says:

    Thank you for posting this! I can’t begin to tell you how much time you saved me and the improvement these resources will bring to our scouting program!

  4. Eric Larson says:

    As a “11YO Scout Leader,” I appreciate this post. Here are some of the things I have learned in the last three years.

    You have to be organized. I use spreadsheets a lot for this. On one spreadsheet, I track incoming boys for the next two to three years, and monitor their progress with it. I use this 12-month calendar for planning the allowed three camp outs, lots of monthly hikes and a few winter-specific activities, taking advantage of Council opportunities at GSLC’s Camp Tracy (Winter Fun-O-Ree and their New Scout Summer Camp). It takes the T/2/1 requirements and combines them into skill groups, and we focus on one group per month. In reality, some skills need more than this, some less, but everything gets covered, and there’s flexibility built into it. I plan to condense it into a 6-month plan, because I’ve come to realize that a year is overly long to revisit many of these topics, especially with boys entering/leaving the group at random intervals.

    I’ve found with 11YOS New Scouts, that often it’s the parents’ first time around the Scouting block, too. This hit me my first year when I realized that of seven Scouts, five were the oldest in their families. The parents need just as much training as the boys. When a Scout is about to turn 11, I meet with him and his parents, to help them understand what to expect, and what’s different from Cub Scouts. I tell them that Akela stays in the pack, boys are responsible for their own Scouting program and keeping records (I show them how a Handbook works), to be prepared for Patrol meetings, etc. and anything else I feel they ought to know at the outset. I am very clear with the parents that Scouting is not in the business of handing out badges, but of developing young men’s talents and potential, the badges are merely one form of recognizing this. I also provide them with a “welcome to Scouts” letter, one for the boy, one for the parents, outlining policies (BSA, not mine), expectations, and needs.

    That said, it’s the boys’ first rodeo too, and they need plenty of guidance as they make plans, choose activities and carry them out. They’ve never had this kind of autonomy, or responsibility, so, in a way, because we’re told not to “cross the streams,” you have to almost be their Troop Guide for this first year. Clarke Green and other very wise Scouters would not like this arrangement, but it’s almost forced upon us, because older and younger boys almost never interact in a Church setting, let alone pass along what they have learned to the younger groups. That’s not necessarily by Church design, but it’s the de-facto reality, and there’s almost nothing we can do about it.

    I think of myself as an Assistant Scoutmaster, (“Eleven-year-old Scout leader” only exists in Church documents, not in any BSA publication) So I make sure to represent the Scouts at Committee meetings, because if I don’t, they’ll be forgotten: they’re still in Primary, but they’re not Cub Scouts; they’re Scouts, but not “Young Men.” It’s the closest thing we have to Limbo in the Church.

    At the end of the year, the goal shouldn’t be that they’ve all been dragged across the First Class “yard line,” – it’s their job to take advantage of the opportunities provided (I’m just the driver) and meet their own advancement and other goals – but that they’re prepared to take on a bigger role in the Deacon’s quorum and the “real” Scout Troop, leading, making and executing plans and activities, and serving others.

    And the most important thing for any LDS 11YO leader to realize: the Church does NOT mandate that boys go camping with their fathers in attendance. Doing so penalizes them for situations out of their control (for example, dads who are divorced, displaced, indifferent, deployed, deceased, etc.). Here’s what the handbook REALLY says: “Fathers are invited and encouraged to participate in the over-night camping experiences with their sons and with boys whose fathers cannot attend.” We can’t, on the one hand encourage them to achieve First Class, (while limiting their opportunities, only three camp-outs allowed), then on the other say, ‘because of a situation you have no control over (dad can’t/won’t go camping), we won’t let you advance. However, when you are lucky enough to have dads who will take time off work and such to participate, you have to pre-brief them that it’s the boys’ camp-out, and not to interfere; it’s not a father/son camp, either.

    I’m probably missing a few things, but I have to get back to work.

  5. Kent Hansen says:

    Nice realization. I bet your class went great!

    I would never consider a 12 month plan for EYO scouts…either 4 or 6 month is much better and allows for tremendous leadership opportunities.

    Lots of great EYO resources at http://www.utahscouts.org/eyo.

    BTW, the 4-month plan came from a great EYO leader in the GSLC, and we implemented it with huge success for 4 years in Kansas City.

    Keep up the great blog!

    –Kent

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