How to Train a Teenage Boy

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Jambo Journal – Day #6, Friday, July 30, 2010 The 5K Run.

Yesterday’s entry: Can I have Some Lumbar Support with that Sandwich?

Another night of coolness – but 1276439_38407327_outdoor_dining_table_stock_xchng_royalty_freeonly in the early morning hours. The sleeping was much better – not the best I’ve had on a campout, but much better. The morning urge to “de-hydrate” ruins my intention to sleep in. The troop wakes up at 5:30am and all but one go on the five-kilometer run/walk. As usual, I stay back to guard the treasures, yet again invoking my special function. The other leaders have graciously volunteered to stay back the rest of the day, giving me time to shuffle off to the Staff Dining tent, begin typing this missive and (finally) charge my thirsty electronic devices. (BTW, did you know if you turn your internet connection off on your phone, your battery lasts a lot longer?)

The boys trickle back into camp led by, appropriately, the Troop’s SPL. They started the runners first and the walkers ten minutes later. In all, there’s about a 45 minute difference between the first and final returnees. The SPL doesn’t wait for each patrol’s gopher to arrive and smartly dispatches the first four boys off to procure our breakfast rations. That’s when the morning’s lesson begins.

We’re halfway into our Jamboree experience and the Patrols, while greatly improved, still need a little prodding to more efficiently complete their meal tasks from getting the materials to cooking to cleaning (they’re pretty good at the eating part). One patrol seems most proficient (albeit still not perfect) and is often the first dismissed. The others, well, let’s just say today we drew the line.

It’s not like we’re mean and nasty Scoutmasters. You see, our primary job at the actual Jamboree includes making sure the boys are out of camp as soon as possible after breakfast and dinner (they get lunch from kiosks spread throughout the site – an excellent innovation, if I do say so myself). Activities generally begin at 9am and it can take an hour to get to an activity site. That means you’ve got to leave the subcamp by 8am, which means you’ve got to start cooking by 6:30am.

Needless to say, we either missed our mark or lowered the bar in the first four days. For those of you familiar with EDGE, this would be an example of “enabling.” This is not the example of enabling they like to teach you in management training (or Wood Badge or NYLT). This type of enabling enables not so good things. So, today we’re going into “bad cop” mode to help the boys take on a little more self-responsibility. We can’t guarantee this’ll make them clean up their rooms at home, but, hey, you never know.

We hold back all the patrols until they’ve been signed off as having their patrol area clean. (The only exception being a quartet of boys who need to get in line to buy the daily patch at the Trading Post.) Here’s the results (as you might imagine): The effective patrol gets dismissed first, although a little later than normal (but just before 8am). The next patrol is dismissed more than a half-hour later. The last patrol doesn’t get dismissed until after 9am. Most of them weren’t in a hurry anyway, which might have hurt our strategy. They were waiting for the Trading Post travellers to return before setting out together.

But here’s the really inventive thing we did. In order to facilitate matters, we didn’t hold the patrols back for unclaimed merchandise in their patrol area. Rather, we accumulated it all and placed it in a “troop lost and found bin.” We’re thinking of announcing this at dinner tonight, because “what’s lost as the troop must be found by the troop.” We’ll see how this goes…

Just ran into a Towpath Boy Scout Roundtable attendee. He’s on staff. He said he just heard over the internal messaging system they expect over 100,000 people here tomorrow. That’s twice as many as the number of people in camp. He suggests the boys stick close to home. I’ll be sure to pass this intelligence on.

I spend most of the daylight hours in the Subcamp Staff dining tent completing previous days’ journal entries. The Staff themselves are preparing to show Follow Me Boys tonight. This dining tent might 15 troops. We probably have 45 troops in our subcamp. My guess is, a lot of these boys have already seen the famous Fred MacMurray movie (it was made during his Disney years, not during his younger Mr. Roberts era).

After dinner, we assemble the boys around the center of the camp and give them the lowdown on things. First, we reiterate the need to properly account for themselves by signing into and out of camp. It seems last night two boys were “lost” from another troop, requiring subcamp commissioners to inspect every troop. This inspection occurred after 11pm. Taps is played at 10:15pm. Since some of our boys forgot to move their clothespin back to the “In Camp” line, we had to wake the SPL so he could do a bed check.

The second item on the agenda was our “lost and found” bundle from the post-breakfast clean up. We had heard some rumblings earlier in the day when the boys began to discover their missing things were in a pile by the leaders tent. When we instructed them they couldn’t retrieve the goods until after dinner, they weren’t too happy.

So we prepared for the worst.

Quite the opposite occurred. It turned into a game. The boys wanted to see who would “win” by collecting the most “lost” articles (including a set of underwear and a pair of socks).

We’ll find out after breakfast tomorrow when we do the next clean-up inspection. I have a feeling things will work out. The boy leadership really took our stunt seriously. The patrol leader of the Skittle patrol admonished a couple of his boys for leaving camp without signing out. The ASPL sat at our camp gateway and didn’t allow anyone to leave unless they had formally signed out. These boys did this without adult direction.

Boy leadership. That’s what Boy Scouts is all about.

As has become traditional, the post dinner time sees plenty of visitors – mostly adults – in search of our patches.

So, here’s the true story of the Interlocking Turtle. The original Turtle design came from Contingency Troop 314 when the scoutmaster challenged the boys to think outside the box. He told them the story from an old Totiakan story of creation of the God Manitou. According to lore, the great god Manitou brought heaven down for the Seneca Nation as a reward. When he withdraw his hands, his five fingers scratched the Earth, forming the Finger Lakes. The wood turtle, a native species, comes from an illustrated children’s story, where the Finger Lakes were scratched into the back of a turtle. A boy from Troop 50 in Farmington came up with the original concept of a turtle patch.

Our own contingency troop’s (Troop 322) Scoutmaster worked with the artist – a florist in the town of Mendon – to come up with a design based on “a day in the life of a scout.” He also envisioned what ultimately became the jigsaw puzzle interlocking design.

At night we review the strategy and tactics for tomorrow’s Closing Ceremony. We expect 75,000 people in the arena.

A scout asks, “Will the President be there?”

“I can guarantee he won’t be there,” answers the scoutmaster.

“I know who I won’t be voting for,” responds the scout.

“Well, he just lost 75,000 votes,” echoes another.

Pretty politically astute for teenagers.

Stay Tuned for Tomorrow’s Exciting Journal Entry: Third Time’s a Charm.

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