So, what are ways that you can include older boys in the troop and still continue to give them a quality experience full of adventure?
Create a Patrol
Create a patrol(s) specifically for the older boys. The older youth will have the opportunity to be among their peers and do activities that fit their age group, but still be a part of the troop. The Patrol Method explains perfectly the purpose of the patrol and why it would make sense to create an older boy patrol:
“…The patrol method allows Scouts to interact in small groups where they can easily relate to each other…”
Below is a side-by-side comparison of a traditional Scout troop and an LDS Scout troop. As you can see, the LDS church already separates its young men by age. Use this to your advantage in developing the patrols within your troop.
HELPFUL TIP: A great technique that the LDS church uses is to begin each activity or meeting with opening exercises together as a troop, and then separate into “classes” (patrols). You can use this method to still maintain socialization between all groups.
Assign Leadership Positions
Did you know that in 2017, within the Utah National Parks Council, 67% of young men achieved the Eagle rank after age 16? Why is this important to know? Because Scouting is still relevant to older Scouts. The best way to support an older boy earning his Eagle is to assign them to a leadership position. The following leadership positions qualify for the Eagle rank:
- Troop Guide
- Order of the Arrow Troop Representative
- Instructor Core
- Junior Assistant Scoutmaster
- Den Chiefs
- Leave No Trace (LNT) Trainer
Deliver Quality Activities
As youth get older, their interests will start to change. That doesn’t mean they’ll no longer be interested in Scouts, it just means that the activities they plan and participate in need to be even more adventurous! The mindset needs to change as youth get older, it is not so much about advancement anymore, but about high-quality activities.
Luckily, some of the Council camps are specifically designed for exciting, high adventure activities. Older youth are encouraged to attend one of these camps to experience thrilling (and safe) adventures under the care of trained professionals. Here are a few of the Council’s most popular camps:
“Beaver High Adventure Base, located in Beaver, Utah, provides an exciting program tailored for older youth and large church groups.”
“Entrada is located outside of Moab, Utah near Arches and Canyonlands National Parks and has a unique desert program that offers a wide range of mountain biking, canyoneering and more!”
“Maple Dell Scout Camp is located up Payson Canyon and is accessible year-round by a paved road. A high ropes course, zip line, shooting sports and kayaking are just a few amenities that this camp has to offer.”
Another great resource that will help educate you on delivering an empowering program is using the Program Features guides. There are three in-depth volumes full of ideas, leadership techniques, resources, and more. You can find the Program Features on www.utahscouts.org/roundtable.
The Utah National Parks Council is committed to serving LDS youth through the next 19 months by helping them continue their Scouting experience, even after 2020. Now, more than ever, it is crucial to support older boys within the troop to either help them earn their Eagle rank or set them up for success when transferring to another troop.
As a leader, it is your responsibility to keep them engaged with high-quality activities, educate them on the importance of leadership positions and include them throughout the rest of their Scouting adventure.
Have you had a successful troop experience with your older boys? Let us know!