The first question a scout family should ask - Is our homeschooling status permanent?
For families that know regardless of personal changes they will remain in homeschooling the choice is simpler. For others that worry about having to stop homeschooling, even briefly, factors such as loss of a job, a spouse returning to work, or the enrollment of the homeschool child in online, co-op or other private school courses which would nullify their homeschool status, all come into play. Military deployment and family illness can also impact the ability of a family to continue homeschooling.
Families will change their habits, jobs, or do what is necessary for the time being to get through the difficulty. In the process they may not be aware but not all boy scout troops honor such needs. Strict homeschool troops require scouts to continue homeschool without interruption, and if a change like these occurs the scout is removed from their troop. The scout troops in question don’t always advertise those negative aspects up front, but should, so a scout does not progress for a year or two to find themselves losing all their friends, and progress.
Boy Scout Troop 333 of Huntersville was formed as a flexible homeschool troop. Created by scout families who want adult leaders tolerant towards school choices, these young men are loyal to each other and to scouting. Anyone who begins as a homeschooler but no longer meets the strict state definition of homeschooling preserves their scout friendships in our troop. Anyone respectful of homeschooling, or has a prior history of homeschooling may join.
We have personally witnessed families that will homeschool one year, have a child in private or public school setting for a few months or a year, then return to homeschooling for various reasons. For these scouts to even attempt to maintain a scouting career, seek higher rank and merit badges, and support friendships is hard enough without being told they have to leave. Then finding a new troop and meshing into the social structure can be difficult. Most boys in this situation leave scouting and that’s detrimental to their future.
The second question a family should ask is - How tolerant is this troop?
At Boy Scout Troop 333 we have a statement of inclusiveness printed on the face of our by-laws. We want families to know that nobody in the group, especially the adults, will comment or criticize a youth for not holding the exact same denominational religious beliefs, or the same school status.
Unfortunately some troops feel they are within the bounds of boy scouts to make comment on an individual’s faith, and to hold a scout to some personal standard not embodied in the Boy Scout’s guidelines. This should probably be discussed before joining a troop so you don’t find yourself among adults attempting to ostracize your child.
The Boy Scouts of America® has a religious guidelines policy, and while individual charter organizations, such as churches, sponsor the troops, they are not supposed to discriminate. If a Catholic or Jewish or Mormon boy wants to join a Lutheran church scout troop there should be no issue and vice versa. A belief in God and faith are all that are required, not specific doctrine. Each scout is supposed to pursue their religious emblem working with their own pastor, and parents. No troop committee member or scout leader is supposed to comment on the scouts’ beliefs.
The last question is most likely - Is this a good fit for our family?
Some families want military style discipline with push-ups handed out for every perceived infraction. In some troops, conflict is resolved, if at all, by a scoutmaster laying down “the law”.
Troop 333 feels that the same resolution capabilities used in adult workplaces can be applied to the scouts. They should learn these methods while they are young to help them their whole lives. Discipline can be as simple as scouts repeating a task, like dishwashing or clean-up, if they fail to live up to expectations. Gaining skillful excellence over tasks does not come from instilling fear or wearing a child down physically. Practice works very well.
We also want families to be comfortable and know their son is not just going to run off camping and have little interaction with the remaining family. The patrol methods inside scouting are beneficial to the scouts but do not have to occur in a remote area, or have meetings closed to the families.
We believe both men and women can serve as scoutmasters and role models for the boys. In the field and on trips there are different styles applied by adults to varying situations. We want the scouts to understand that there is no one way of solving problems, or even discussing matters.
We would like them to feel supported in expressing their needs, and finding ways to solve issues that do not first involve martial discipline. While boys may respond initially to such tactics, we observe that they grow to resent not being treated like adults when they attempt to act like adults and fulfill requirements to their abilities.
Troop 333 wants full family participation and allows families to be present at troop meetings. The adults carry out their administrative tasks while the scouts conduct their troop meeting. Often we add pot luck dinners so families don’t have to run home for eating then run to the meeting.
On multiple camping trips and events during the year, the parents and siblings attend. The scouts still function as patrols and carry out their duties, they just have the added camaraderie of seeing and interacting with their families, and we feel that is a very natural circumstance.
For those trips where it is absolutely uncomfortable for women to attend we do not require nor disallow it. We feel that is a personal choice for the family.
Online efficiency at our troop!
And finally - Troop 333 encourages interactive online meetings through our unique private scout server. Meal, menu, duty roster and camping planning can all take place in live chat, forums, with complete forms upload and editing capabilities. This way scouts can concentrate on more fun physical activity during meetings and hold administrative meetings online in off hours.
To learn more about the flexible homeschool troop visit http://www.thefamilytroop.org.
Serving the counties of North Mecklenburg, South Iredell and West Cabarrus, all families in Charlotte, Huntersville, Cornelius, Davidson, Mooresville, Kannapolis and surrounding areas are invited to make inquiries at email@example.com.
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Boy Scout Troop 333 is in the Hornet's Nest District, Mecklenburg Council based in the Charlotte, NC metropolitan region serving Huntersville, Davidson, Cornelius, Mooresville, Kannapolis, South Iredell County, West Cabarrus and North Mecklenburg county.