First Class / First Year

I started this post a while ago, lost interest in it, and just read something over at on his take of the FYE program, and decided to finish it up.

According to BSA, each unit is supposed to have a program in place for helping new scouts advance to First Class in the First year.  This, in my opinion, is a pretty surmountable task.  It is my contention that a 15 year old boy could easily learn and achieve almost every rank requirement in the list on a single campout(with the exception of those with time constraints) at least to the level indicated by Art. 1, Clause 5 in the Rules and Regs.  The issue is though, that it’s not generally a 15 year old working on this, but usually 11 year olds.  So the question is, how to achieve the desired result with 10.5 – 11 year old scouts that come from a program (Cubbies) where everything is pre-planned and organized for them and motivate them to earn rank through the Boy Led method?

A while back I scoured Google for assistance with this.  Found a curriculum, updated it to the current (2010) requirements and implemented it in our New Scout program…  now, I’m not so sure that’s the way to go.  I mean, the goal itself is fine, just maybe not the method that I’ve been using.

Boys sitting in class, or around an instructor at a campsite learning new skills isn’t what I think Scouting is about.  Scouting is supposed to be about “preparing young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.” by using the methods of scouting.

So how do we create an intentional plan, whereby increasing the retention potential of our younger scouts, that facilitates them achieving all of the rank requirements needed for First Class within the span of a year?  Leadership Training.

New scouts need to focus on the meaning of the Scout Oath and Law, in which the Aims of Scouting are expressed.  Couple this with training and reinforcement by Adult Association in which the Scout learns and is encouraged to set goals for themselves, the new scout will find their own way to First Class, and faster than in the single year goal.

Now this doesn’t mean that we don’t have a curriculum to follow or a plan to facilitate.  It is still our obligation as Adult Leaders to provide opportunities for the Scouts to earn these requirements and we also must work to create an environment for them that facilitates success, personally I use the Honor Patrol Award as a big focus for the Patrol Leaders, as this helps with the process because the younger scouts are the low hanging fruit for the advancement requirements of the award.

I also like using games and contests to facilitate a lot of the skills, that way they have to actually use the skill rather than learning something in which they have no idea what the practical application may be.  I’ve been promoting the Scout Skills and Games as material for the older scouts to plan this process.

So the goal of First Class in the First Year is definitely a good thing to have in the program as long as it is used as a tool to measure and doesn’t create a class room like / “No Child / Scout left Behind” mentality.  It follows the BSA guidance of actually having a program plan, using  SMART goals, and as long as we follow the methods of scouting, and keep in mind the aims of scouting, it can really enhance the program.

So the next question….  BSA also sets the goal for units for boys to advance a rank every year after first class,  how is that facilitated?


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