Linkage - Moving from Section to Section Best Practices

Discussions about the 2012 Program Review
Rick Gruchy
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Linkage - Moving from Section to Section Best Practices

Post by Rick Gruchy » Mon Dec 03, 2012 10:45 am

One of the major issues we are hoping to address with the Program Revitalization is the loss of youth as they move from section to section. If you look at the attached slide you can see how the biggest drop off occur when youth are moving from section to section. (also see: http://www.scouts.ca/sc2012/pdfs/presen ... sc2012.pdf )

As has been discussed in other threads, the Program Revitalization Team has been exploring ideas that might change this trend, but this is still very much up for discussion.

What would you folks consider to be some of your Linkage best practices?

What have you done that works to get youth to move up to the next Sections?

What have you done that has not worked?

Please don't answer "Exciting Programs with trained Scouters." That is too easy and we know this. We are looking for real tried and true methods.

Thanks,

Rick
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Sam Wallis
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Re: Linkage - Moving from Section to Section Best Practices

Post by Sam Wallis » Mon Dec 03, 2012 11:03 am

on the other hand, perhaps ideas on how to deliver "exciting programs" miught be usefull, but specifics, ie scouts take cubs on backpacking trip.... canoe trip....
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Re: Linkage - Moving from Section to Section Best Practices

Post by 4thSackville » Mon Dec 03, 2012 11:11 am

I think the key is in the linking activities. If the 3rd year cubs get to see what the Scouts do then they will want to move up but there needs to be an exciting program for them to see

geordiescout
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Re: Linkage - Moving from Section to Section Best Practices

Post by geordiescout » Mon Dec 03, 2012 12:03 pm

I find out what star the cubs are working on and get the scouts to come in and teach part of the badge, also this weekend we have our christmas camp the scouts run the program for the beavers and cubs. the cubs comming to scouts We teach them some basic camping skills. we also have a fun weekend with lots of fun games where the cubs get to know the scout leaders this does involve the scout leaders getting messy but the youth love it.

Angus Bickerton
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Re: Linkage - Moving from Section to Section Best Practices

Post by Angus Bickerton » Mon Dec 03, 2012 12:14 pm

last year, we had all of our 3rd year cubs attend scout meetings starting April 1 (and still going to cub meetings), and immediately started preparing them for camp. Before this, they had toured a Scout spring camp (while they were in a cabin) at the end of March, and spent the day at that camp as Scouts, while the cubs were off doing other stuff.

The difference between the freedom/responsibility at scout camp really drew them in, plus seeing that you did all your own cooking, lit your own fires, sawed your own wood. Then, after the April meetings (which were heavy on skills training and great exciting games in a full gymnasium), we invested them at the Swim Up/going up. Immediately after that, we went camping, doing a basic skills camp. Then we went camping again in early June. We ended the year with a swimming party BBQ at one of the Scouters' houses. Then, in July, we did a fishing night. Later in August, we did a kick-off BBQ again, and then leaped into program and started the year with a paddle camp.

We allowed the scubs to continue earning cub badges until the end of the Scouting year (August 31), as a number of them wanted to get all their awards, or finish off their interest badges. We tested a number in August for that purpose. This let them finish on a high note.

As a result of the intensive linking, the kids were swamped with stuff to do, and they THRIVED on it. We had 5 scubs, and kept 4. Added to that, we recruited 5 non-scouting youth, 4 of them through the scubs we retained. We plan to increase our linking by inviting this year's 3rd year cubs to a Saturday of a winter camp (day only) to give them a taste, and to start camping with us in a late spring March camp.

We did the same for our White Tail Beavers. We had the standard Colony/Pack linking activities, but then in early April, we had the Beavers attending cub meetings all month (while still also going to Beavers). Swam them up in early May, and invested them in early June. Our Council (Voyageur) also did a Jungle Camp for White Tail Beavers, and we had most of ours there. Of the 9 we had, we kept 8 in cubs.

The main reason that I think we kept so many is that they all felt comfortable at the next level, were challenged by the new adventures facing them, and also felt that sense of fun again (that admittedly had started to wane, especially for the White Tails).
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Re: Linkage - Moving from Section to Section Best Practices

Post by scouterguider » Mon Dec 03, 2012 12:20 pm

We do our "leap up" cerimonies a couple of months before the end of the year - so the youth get a couple of months in the next section before the summer break.

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Re: Linkage - Moving from Section to Section Best Practices

Post by norma » Mon Dec 03, 2012 1:17 pm

I find that if a Beaver has been around for 3 years, they tend to be 'finished' with the Beaver program in Feb/March of their White Tail year.

So there needs to be some option to start getting more with the Cubs at this point.

I like the ideas that Angus was saying of allowing them to go to both meetings starting in about April, so that they can be 'invested' at the swim up ceremony (or very shortly afterwards)

The white tail was originally supposed to be a link with the white tenderpad scarf. So by being a 'white tail beaver' it was to overlap with being a 'tenderpad' so when you moved up you could be invested without having to wait around.

The biggest thing needed is an change of attitude of the other sections. If we can break down the silos and have the group working together in a more fluid capacity then the youth will be more comfortable about switching sections.

I know a group that did their swim up in February. Their Beavers who swam up were given the 'swim up tail' available at Scout Shop to show they had 'moved on' but were still allowed to attend Beaver meetings and camps if they wished (which helped some as they were building up to a themed camp that each meeting helped prepare a bit more, so they weren't missing out on what they had already started) but they also could go to Cub meetings and activities if they wanted. So its a slower transition, but they have the support of the Beaver colony, with the possible adventures of the Cub pack right there.

Some youth need a 'clean break' but a lot would appreciate the gradual transition to show it is not so bad moving on.

A lot of groups are reluctant to do early move up because that will leave the younger section 'short' on youth. For instance one year we had 16 Beavers, all but 3 were white tails, so if we did an early swim up we would be left with 3 Beavers and then those 3 would 'lose out' for the remainder of the year as there isn't much you can do with 3 youth. For about half the White tails it was their 3rd year and they were 'finished' with Beavers already. Some could have easily stayed on longer (and were happy til the end of the year) but those that were there for a Brown tail year were plenty ready to move on. Even if we had moved half of them it would have made everyone happier because their poor attitude was disruptive to the colony as a whole.


The main problem I find with linking is the reluctance of the leaders of the older sections to link 'down'. They are all gung ho about linking 'up' with the older sections, but have no interest about those that will be moving into their section (often have the 'they are too young' attitude)

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Re: Linkage - Moving from Section to Section Best Practices

Post by Sam Wallis » Mon Dec 03, 2012 2:25 pm

to me the excuse that they are too young is crap in most cases. I know my pack spends more time on things that should be done in Beavers than anything chalenging. I suspect thats comon. there are some groups that actualy chalenge the kids, but lots that dont. sure, cubs cant take a canoe thru class 5 whitewater, but they can canoe moving water (with training). all we have to do is teach the skills, foundation and then advanced as they gain abilities. Sometimes we try to do all things, and end up doing nothing well.
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Angus Bickerton
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Re: Linkage - Moving from Section to Section Best Practices

Post by Angus Bickerton » Mon Dec 03, 2012 3:29 pm

Norma, you are absolutely right. That is the biggest problem, is the lack of willingness of the older section to link regularly with the younger. We are really trying hard to make it the culture of our Group to link regularly and often, usually starting with a fall camp, but there are still some holdouts.

We have two Packs, one of which was quite engaged in linking with the Colony, and the other one that just couldn't spare a cub as a Keeo or a leader to help at the Jungle Camp. We had 9 white tails, and every last one of them chose the first, because that's where they knew everyone. Without familiarity, it can be scary for the shy kids. They are familiar with Hawkeye and Bubbles, but if they don't know Akela, Bagheera and Baloo, they can be afraid of going, just like some were as Brown Tails. If they are regularly introduced, and get familiar with the leaders and the kids, they feel comfortable and welcome.

I had one WB I trainer say to me in front of a WB I class that we were linking our cubs too much with Scouts, saying that they might "get bored" with Scouts before getting there. My instant reaction was to state that Troop is a minimum 3-year program (hard to "get bored" with that much material), but instead I quipped in reply: "maybe in your Scout troop, but ours has too fun to let that happen. Senior Cubs LIKE coming to our Troop". I said it with a smile, but was a little ticked off. Isn't one of the points of cubs to get kids ready for scouts?

As Norma said, the biggest impediment to linking is the attitudes of certain leaders. Weed those out, linking will go better, and retention will get better. My group is a case in point. 80% retention is pretty darn good, and we are trying for 100% this year!
Angus Bickerton
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Brockville Troop
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Re: Linkage - Moving from Section to Section Best Practices

Post by kaa27th » Mon Dec 03, 2012 4:04 pm

Making swim-up/going up in April the norm might help, so kids can be invested into the new section by June. Then youth have until summer to get used to the new section. If this leaves sections short of youth, maybe a leader or two can move up as well (even if temporary until summer), giving those kids a familiar face within the new section, and giving the scouters a new section to get to know as well.
YIS
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Re: Linkage - Moving from Section to Section Best Practices

Post by bcbagheera » Mon Dec 03, 2012 6:09 pm

Do not Silo the sections! Do more together. Let the younger ones see what the older sections are doing, and, age appropriate of course, let them do some of it too! Hopefully they will find it fun and look forward to more of it. Link, Link, Link.

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Re: Linkage - Moving from Section to Section Best Practices

Post by Doug Reid » Tue Dec 04, 2012 7:47 am

The graph in the presentation that Rick posted is the data that confirms our issues with advancing to the next Section. How to address?

- Better linking - what does that mean and how can we make sure it's a part of the program and not something a Scouter can choose to do?
- The programs are presented as stages....with the end of April being the "Moving ON" to the next Section for those that are in their final year. Would that make a difference?
- Would combining this with Spring Registration help?

Clearly by the statements here, those of you that promote linking, have a good system of introducing the youth to the next Section, this greatly reduces the fear factor for the youth and improves retention. We should be able to gather all these best practices and design the strategy going forward.

Doug
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Re: Linkage - Moving from Section to Section Best Practices

Post by trevpage » Tue Dec 04, 2012 9:58 am

I would strongly encourage that Linking Activities become the focus of Jumpstarts. Most leaders can figure out how to run the program after WBI and a few sample JumpStarts (assuming few if any experienced Leaders around to help). Linking Activities, however, are much more intimidating (and you have to work with OTHER LEADERS blah! :? :P ). A good library of such activities would give those groups without a strong history of linking the foundation of ideas to build from.

This is also something that Group Commissioners should be focusing on as they are the "main liaison" between the different sections in a group. Sometimes the two section leadership teams may not be used to working together; have the Group Commissioner "take charge" for these activities. I know SC, or at least many of us, have identified GCs as something that can be done better. But maybe this might even help: many GCs want to remain part of a section rather than focusing on the GC role. This would give them their own "program area" to work on, which is directly related to their GC role.

Anyway, just thoughts.

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Re: Linkage - Moving from Section to Section Best Practices

Post by 2HC-OldChil » Tue Dec 04, 2012 10:26 am

I have replied with this about a year ago:

"Our Area event added some interesting twists. We run Buggies, Kars and Trucks in the same room as a linking event. Very noisy for sure. We use Beaver leaders as the Kar design judges and use the "Must be built by a Cub" criteria to allow an even playing field for design, eliminating the parent built Kars. There are always complaints but the winner Kars definitely are low tech machines allowing the one parent (usually female) family a "fair" chance."

For the next year we are repeating a new event - anyone race against anyone for half an hour. Last year it was a spontaneous time filler and there were Beavers racing Venturers and Rovers and Beavers against Cubs. (mostly friends(siblings) against friends I am guessing) We have decided to make this an event as it is the uber Linking event. Very chaotic but they had fun and that is the theme of our Rally Day.

One other idea as mentioned above is for the Pack to bring White Tails to an event, Scouts to bring (invite) 3rd year Cubs. Issues to solve but overall the linking has helped retention locally. The only sticking point is the Section Leaders who refuse to try new ideas and stick to old and true.

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Re: Linkage - Moving from Section to Section Best Practices

Post by Angus Bickerton » Tue Dec 04, 2012 1:20 pm

2HC-OldChil wrote:The only sticking point is the Section Leaders who refuse to try new ideas and stick to old and true.
More like the "old and misleading", or the "old and false", or the "old and failing". We could have the best programs going, and we'd only get half way to our growth goals if we don't tell people about it. In our Group, because one Pack's leaders didn't really participate much in the linking activities, they didn't get a single one of the 9 Beavers we swam up. We kept 8, but all in the other Pack.

This is a recurring theme in the posts on this page. Linking must become an integral part of program delivery. In the Cub Program Review team, we built it into the activity map. We have a Beaver pointing the way to/from the Pond, and we have the Man Village, which represents Scouts. This will be present in the Cub Handbook, and in the leaders' materials. I imagine that the other sections are looking at this also.
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Re: Linkage - Moving from Section to Section Best Practices

Post by Sam Wallis » Tue Dec 04, 2012 2:29 pm

Not that I disagree, but its not the only cure, there have to be others. we do squat for linking with beavers. not sure why that is, but we get great swim up. not 100% but fairly good. our linking consists of haloween party, christmas party, and swim up.

personaly I dont define any of that as a real linking. should be some guidelines, like 3rd year beavers should come to one cub camp, treat as cubs for ratio.... 3 meetings, and if possible one hike.
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Re: Linkage - Moving from Section to Section Best Practices

Post by Angus Bickerton » Tue Dec 04, 2012 3:54 pm

There are guidelines in the Program Standards, but they are not clear enough. More detail, to be sure.

Also, one size fits all will not work. It has to be Group by Group, but with some flexibility. Quality is more important than amount, but having enough is important nevertheless.

For instance, you could say that White Tail Beavers/Senior Cubs/Senior Scouts will attend at least 6 meetings/events at the section above theirs before April 30. That leaves it wide open as to what you do with those meetings/events. To break down the silo effect, you could require at least 3 major Group meetings/events, such as a fall and spring camp and BP Banquet/Campfire. A guideline is needed, and firm direction from the ACs and GCs. I like the idea of making the GC the linking coordinator.
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Re: Linkage - Moving from Section to Section Best Practices

Post by norma » Tue Dec 04, 2012 6:44 pm

From Beavers:
Unless distance/isolation prohibits, opportunities are provided for Beavers to interact with Cubs, with the minimum standard being:
- One regular meeting and one other activity with a Cub pack annually
- Senior Beavers of swimming-up age have at least one other opportunity to interact with a Cub Pack
- Keeo is utilized as part of the leadership team.
From Cubs:
Unless distance/isolation prohibits, opportunities are provided for Cubs to interact with Beavers and Scouts, with the minimum standard being:
- One regular meeting and one other activity with a Beaver Colony annually
- One regular meeting and one other activity with a Scout Troop annually
- Kim is used as part of the leadership team
- A Cub is selected to serve as a Keeo with a Beaver Colony
- Senior Cubs of advancement age have at least one other opportunity to interact with a Scout Troop.
From Scouts:
Unless distance/isolation prohibits, opportunities are provided for Scouts to interact with Cubs and Venturers, with the minimum standard being:
- One regular meeting and one other activity with a Cub Pack annually
- One regular meeting and one other activity with a Venturer Company annually
- A Scout is selected to serve as a Kim with a Cub Pack.
- Senior Scouts of advancement age have at least one other opportunity to interact with a Venturer Company.
The Cubs think that the Halloween Party, Christmas Party are sufficient for 'linking' activities with the Beavers.
We do 'usually' have a group fall camp and a group winter camp. But only if we can get the cabins/lodges. (Which a few times in the last couple years we have not been able to get as everything was booked solid)

But those camps are essentially 3 camps run at the same facility. The youth come together on Saturday for a campfire. And the Beavers and Cubs take meals together. The Scouts sometimes have meals with the group, but usually make their own food over the fire outside while the rest are eating indoors.

The group I started with had even less interactions. The Group BBQ at the end of the year was the only time the sections saw each other, and that was when they did the swim up/move up ceremonies.

The requirements are to link both up and down, but leaders tend to only want to link 'up'. They don't want to bother with the 'younger' if they can get away with it. I find that people 'settle' into the section because they are more comfortable with that age group than the younger one.

Most Leaders will start in Beavers with their child, then move with their child to Cubs (because they really aren't all that interested in Beavers) and then if Cubs is 'meh' they will move up to Scouts with their child, they then either stay there or leave. After Scouts, adults don't move on as much, unless their is no Venturer section at all and their child needs one to go to. So they don't want to have to 'deal with' the youngers anymore.

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Re: Linkage - Moving from Section to Section Best Practices

Post by kaa27th » Wed Dec 05, 2012 8:42 am

The standard does state once or twice, but IMO it's not enough. A solid two months in the next section before summer break makes sense, you want them immersed, get to know the leaders and kids as well as section routines and some exciting adventures.

Yes, leaders are often reluctant to link down, not necessarily because they don't "like" the younger age group, but they struggle with making the program challenging for the wider ages, when you put them all together. I also hear it from the kids "ugh, Beavers are coming, too???"... they think the program will automatically get dumbed down to the beaver level.
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Re: Linkage - Moving from Section to Section Best Practices

Post by RakelaK » Wed Dec 05, 2012 10:00 am

We do lots of All-Sections activities... 2 social, 2 fundraiser and 2 outdoor camps where all sections are intermingled.

For Cubs to Scouts our Senior Cubs have already done a mutually beneficial civic tour + have attended Scout Skill meeting nights with the troop and will have several more of those before they start to spend full meetings and camps with them just after Kub Kar Season. Something they can opt into doing by their decision...not by us forcing the issue. Our Senior Scouts have the choice as to when/what they want to plan and attend with the Venturers. (it's better when they make those plans on their own rather than it be structured by adults).... they usually start picking off late fall early winter extreme challenge outings if they can. This year they are opting into a Council-Wide social event for both Venturers and Rovers that runs an entire weekend just after Christmas. And they are following that with an extreme wilderness winter camp that happens 2 weekends after the big Council-Wide Rover/Venturer Youth Forum event.

The ideal goal to aim for is that by late Winter the seniors in each section already see themselves as members of the next section because they have been a part of their meetings/camps.... and also included in the planning for those as well. It should never be just a year end ritual... its year long migration so that those youth never feel they are moving into something foreign and unknown.... they feel they are just moving along to a place where they already belong.

Hopefully. Some transition better than others.

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