First Class in First Year?

IMGP6820Recently, a boy scout forum participant asked the following question; “Where do you stand on “first class first year”?”

Over the years that my boys were involved in Scouting (2008-2013), I’ve been told that First Class First Year (FCFY) came about because a greater number of boys renewed membership when they attained First Class in their first year than boys who did not.

An assumption was formed that if more boys complete First Class in their first year, then more will renew and stick with the program (which MAY be true, but to what degree we may not be sure).  In my mind, that’s a classic case of “correlation does not imply causation”.

IMGP6796You see, it may be an entirely baseless assumption that “getting” to a certain rank causes boys to renew their annual membership.  Perhaps it was really the other way around — those boys who were really excited to be involved in the program got through their various requirement “sign offs” within the first year and were interested in renewing whether they attained FC or not.

Admittedly, FCFY is about “providing opportunities” to enable FCFY to happen IF the youth chooses to partake in all of those opportunities (the program is not holding them back from having the opportunity to attain FCFY).  Unfortunately, the FCFY mandate is often mistakenly interpreted and presented as the notion that boys “ought to” attain FCFY or else the troop is “doing it wrong“.

Isaac and Jacob POAObviously, boys who have a strong teaching program (troop guides, troop instructors, new scout patrols, etc.) will be highly engaged in learning about knives, axes, fires, cooking, orienteering, first aid, nature and swimming, etc. are more likely to want to stay engaged since they have a highly motivated team of mentors, a strong program, lots of outings and events (to fulfill various T-2-1 requirements), etc.

This ought to be the case without the need for FCFY promotion/discussion.

FCFY “implies” (perhaps mistakenly) that there’s a sense of urgency to getting through T-2-1 within 365 days, and my fear is that boys will contextualize that “urgency” or “pace” in first-class-badgetheir ongoing scouting commitment and feel the need to push through X number of MBs and ranks each year to “get” Eagle by a certain age (well short of their 18th birthday).

During my own tenure as youth and during my own son’s tenure in the program, I never felt pushed and I never pushed them or their peers to advance following any artificial schedule or timeline. When they mastered the requirement, they got signed off — a simple enough process for 103+ years of BSA advancement.

The folks who developed FCFY meant well.  I just think they tried to fix something that wasn’t broken, and for the wrong goal/reason (retention of youth).  Maybe the time and energy spent on FCFY could be funneled into better round table & PLC meetings on applying ALL scouting methods at the Patrol Level so that the needed (and appropriate) opportunities exist for advancement all year, every year.

Walk Worthy & Do A Good Turn Daily



About Troop113

Our Troop # comes from Psalm 1:1-3 - describing the men we want our scouts to become
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