Taking on the role as the unit leader of the eleven-year-old (EYO) Scouts can seem daunting. There is so much material to learn from in the Troop Leader Guidebook, Volume I and II, ranging from the details of advancement for the ranks of Scout through First Class to running your first and subsequent meetings. Where to begin? How do you capture the imagination and attention of EYO Scouts? Well, the answer is to just keep it simple . . . one step at a time.
For a boy, Scouting is about fun and adventure. Just open the Boy Scout Handbook (13th edition) to page 7, where it declares: “Adventure Ahead!” The point is, if the Scout Handbook can begin with the idea of adventure, then it is a good and simple place for you to start. Keep it simple, beginning with the idea of fun adventures. Set your vision on putting together 12 adventures: one a month.
Now, if you align those 12 adventures to chapters 2 through 13 of the Boy Scout Handbook, within a year you will cover all those items that will take an EYO Scout from the rank of Scout through the rank of First Class. You will have adventures that feature such things as citizenship, fitness, first aid, aquatics, nature, outdoor ethics, hiking, camping, cooking, navigation, tools, and personal safety awareness.
There are 12 adventures and 12 months in a year! It just does not get any simpler than that! Sit down with your EYO Scouts, put 12 squares on a large flip chart, put a month in each square, then have the EYO Scouts determine a good order and put an adventure in each square. Bingo, you have an annual plan!
Lucky you: it gets even easier. The BSA has published a way for your EYO Scouts to have patrol meetings that are full of fun and are aligned to those same 12 adventures. These can be found in the Troop Program Features, Volume I, Volume II, or Volume III (or on Scouting.org). Just pull the adventure for your month and presto, you have all the makings for fun and exciting patrol meetings for your EYO Scouts.
Make sure that each meeting ends with something boys really, truly enjoy—games (and don’t forget an occasional pizza). Search the internet for “Scout games” and have one every week. After the second meeting where they have had a fun and exciting game, you will find that they cannot wait for the next EYO Scout meeting.
There you have it. You now have all the basics. Fun, monthly adventures, well-planned patrol meetings, and boys full of excitement to see what game they will play next week.
Of course, there is still much more, but you have the basics. Follow the Troop Meeting Plan with an opening and closing, add in a Scoutmaster’s Minute, and do reflection following the meeting, and you will have begun the simple process for teaching your EYO Scouts how to make ethical and moral decisions.
There are many more aspects of Scouting that we could talk about, but if you start with these basics, keep it simple, and add one thing at a time, you will, line-upon-line, build a program the meets the aims and purposes of the Primary activity program we support.
Stan Stolpe has served in multiple Scouting positions at the unit, district, council, regional, and national levels in the U.S. and overseas. He resides in Alexandria, Virginia, serving in the Mount Vernon Virginia Stake where he is an EYO Scout leader. The views and opinions expressed in this message are solely those of the author.