Encourage mentoring between Eagle Scouts and new Scouts

J.O.’s troop has older Scouts who like to advance and younger ones who have trouble moving through the ranks. He’s looking for ways to get older Scouts to mentor their younger peers. SCMayJune13_TrailWWYD

How about a challenge? Find something the older kids want—gift card for gas, a special trip, etc. Set a date, and the one who gets the most younger kids started on some of their goals gets the prize.


Each week, our Scouts—who are First Class and above—are assigned a skill to teach the younger Scouts. After the skills are taught, the younger boys practice the skills and can get signed off for their advancements at a future meeting. In addition, the older Scouts get even more interaction with the younger Scouts during their Scoutmaster conferences and boards of review. The younger Scouts really enjoy working with the older Scouts.

Assistant Scoutmaster J.M.

I make it the responsibility of my troop’s older Scouts who are Star and above to work individually with the younger Scouts to help them advance. This gives them the opportunity to lead, as well as forges bonds with the younger Scouts.


I walked into a troop that had been stagnant for nearly two years, with very little advancement. The first thing I did was have the senior patrol leader announce who had achieved something at the closing of each meeting—for example, “John finished up four requirements for Second Class tonight; good job, John.” The boys caught on very quickly. They took pride in what they were doing at each event, and friendly competition began.

Scoutmaster R.H.

Assign each younger Scout a mentor to help along the way. The older Scouts can bond with the younger boys and talk about how they got over their obstacles.

Den Leader C.S.

New Scouts typically have trouble with individualized advancement, particularly if they have come from Cub Scouting where their den moved up in unison. We struggled with this problem until we decided to make better use of our troop guides. These older boys are tasked with familiarizing new Scouts with the advancement program and getting them on track to achieve First Class within the first year. After that, most Scouts have the maturity and motivation to advance on their own.

Assistant Scoutmaster D.B.

As Baden-Powell suggested, we are men teaching boys to become men. You must show your experienced Scouts that it is their duty to mentor those who follow behind them, just as you and others have mentored them. Remind your older Scouts that they were once the Scouts they seek to leave behind. Part of their citizenship as experienced Scouts is to share their knowledge with those less knowledgeable. In fact, they will not truly advance until they advance those who are less advanced.

District Volunteer L.K.B.


Answer the next question and your advice could appear in an upcoming issue.


  1. I am a former Scoutmaster (two different troops), and currently COR and district committee Training Chair. I love to read the WWYD section every issue for training helps. I was confused, though, by the May-June 2013 response of J.M. of Stormville, NY, to the “Getting Scouts to Eagle” prompt. He advises assigning a first Class or above scout to a younger Scout for skill teaching, but then goes on to say that “…the older Scouts get even more interaction with the younger Scouts during their Scoutmaster conferences and boards of review.” What did he mean? Other than the Scout being interviewed, no other Scouts are allowed in a Scoutmaster conference (Scoutmaster only) or a board of review (committee members only). Did something get edited out of his letter? Or is his troop off the mark in regard to BSA policy?

    Yours in Scouting,

    Lance Paulson

  2. The Cubmaster who has trouble getting parents to be patient and let their sons participate in two distinct events for crossing over and Arrow of Light award should remind these parents that their sons will only make this trip down the cubbing trail once and that the purpose for advancements like the Arrow of Light is not just to pass on skills but also to recognize the boy for his accomplishment while he may crossover to a Scout Troop without ever passing his Arrow of Light. Don’t take away separate recognition from the efforts their sons earned. They might also be reminded that the Arrow of Light badge is the only Cub Scout rank that can carry over to the boy’s Scout Uniform. I’ve been the District Advancement Chairman here for over 18 years and I can assure these impatient parents that they’ll be glad 20 years from now that they have that additional photo in their album. I’m as proud of my Transition Knot for the Arrow of Light on my uniform now, as I was 56 years ago when I earned it.

    Bob Ferguson
    Pineville, Louisiana

  3. Re: Hold your horses
    In the age of “fairness”, i.e., what goes for one goes for all, regardless of the circumstances, this is a difficult situation. If you allow one Scout or group of Scouts to “graduate early”, it will lead to a steady stream of youngsters who may not be emotionally ready to take on the challenges of Boy Scouting–and the troop that agrees to accept them does so at their own peril. We teach delayed gratification to our children because it isn’t healthy for them to get what they want , whenever they want it. An extra few months isn’t going to kill them or their parents, as long as the den’s and the pack’s activities reflect their age, abilities, and maturity.

    • I agree, we are growing men. The rules should be followed and not changed. I am the rank advancement coordinator for our troop and my own son hit 1st class 2 months before troop elections. This meant he had to sit for 2 extra months at 1st class because he did not have a leadership role. We teach our boys nothing by bending the rules.

  4. I am writing in reference to “Encourage mentoring between Eagle Scouts and new Scouts” in the “What Would You Do?” column (page 22) in the May-June 2013 issue of SCOUTING Magazine. This particular WWYD contains some opinions that are NOT Scouting. It is NOT Scouting if adults are dragging Scouts along the Eagle Trail, bribing older Scouts, assigning older Scouts, disregarding established leadership positions (Troop Guide and PL, for starters), and having older Scouts participate in SM conferences. Yikes!

    I am a commissioner and most of the problems I see in Scouting occur when adult leaders deliver program that is not Scouting. I see it in various training workshops where adult leaders change the Patrol Method to some apparently expedient alteration, leaders change advancement requirements, go paintballing (but not as the troop (wink-wink), so it is “OK”–NOT!), and many other hair-curling perversions of Scouting.

    The questioner (“Encourage mentoring between Eagle Scouts and new Scouts”) and the respondents can be assumed to be dedicated Scouters and well-meaning people who took the time to think about the issue and write in. But, meaning well and providing good advice are two different things.

    WWYD can be a very useful tool to examine the challenges of delivering the Scouting Program, but Scouting Magazine needs to screen out or provide editorial commentary on suggestions that are myth, folklore, poor management, or other well-meaning ideas that are simply not Scouting.

    Scouting Magazine has no business printing suggestions that Scouters should reinvent Scouting. This needlessly makes Scouters’ jobs harder and cheapens the experience for our Scouting youth. Steering Scouters back to true North would be an invaluable service by your Magazine.

    Please consider a policy change here.

    Yours in Correct Scouting,
    Mitch Erickson, Commissioner, Patriots’ Path Council, NJ

  5. Certainly we want to encourage mentoring between older and younger scouts, but we don’t want this to be perceived by the younger scouts as “Fred is only helping me because I’m his assignment”, or by the older scouts as “the only role or value I have in this troop is to work with the younger kids”.

    As with everything in Scouting, the key is in the patrol system. We start by encouraging the PLC to think of how they can help the younger members of their patrols. Once they take hold of the idea, the rest comes naturally.

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