Do you want to have fun as a Scoutmaster?
Here is a passage from the 1953 Scoutmaster Handbook that my be of help. The beauty of this is that from 1953 to today.. This has not changed, except in the minds of some overbearing Scoutmasters.
“Again and again we come back to the important point that you can’t expect a gang of boys to build a good Patrol without a boy leader who has been trained to lead. And, as Baden Powell says, ‘To get the best results you must give the leader real free handed responsibility. If you only give partial responsibility, you will only get partial results’.
Let the Patrol leaders take over in practically everything. Let them work out their own problems, with the boys in their Patrols. Interfere as little as possible- but always be there to give guidance when they ask for it. Mistakes are bound to be made- therefore, be ready in a friendly spirit to urge the boy leader and his gang to try again.
Train ‘em, Trust’em, and let’em lead! That is the formula for success in using Patrol Leaders and for building strong Patrols.”
I guess I could end this blog post right there, but let me add this. Training your youth leaders is the key here. When do you train them? All the time, but it starts on day one. Patrol Leaders get the advantage of a little OJT as well as formal training. There is no substitute for good practical hands on leading though, complete with plenty of mistakes.
I have talked before about the importance of learning from mistakes, take the time each meeting, after each event, and during different phases of a camp out to find those learning/teaching moments. Coach the leaders through a round of Start, Stop, and Continue and allow them to see with a critical eye the mistakes and success’s they have made.
Keep in mind that a burnt meal, a missed trail crossing, or rocky night sleep will only strengthen skills and confidence in the long run.
Scoutmasters… don’t hover, get out of their way and let them lead.
I love the saying from the handbook -
Train’em, Trust’em, and let’em lead!
Have confidence in your training of the leader, trust that they will do the right thing, and watch the growth.
If you want to have fun as Scoutmaster!… Well there’s the answer.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Sketch by Baden Powell
Quote from the Handbook for Scoutmasters, Boy Scouts of America, Fourth Edition, Seventh Printing (1953)
About this time of the year we hear a lot about training and getting all of the adults of the unit trained, at the same time most units are training the Youth leadership. I think this is interesting in that often times the training that an adult takes really does not set them up for a great training experience for the youth.
Here is what I what I am trying to say, simply put, youth training is about developing confidence in the youth leader to execute the annual plan. To help the Scout learn communication skills, problem solving, and develop an attitude of servant leadership.
The adult training continuum on the other hand teaches the basics of Scouting, where we came from, what a PLC is, what the methods are, and what our role is in achieving the aims of Scouting. But it does not teach us how to deal with young men, how to counsel, how to coach, and how to mentor them through the leadership process.
I had the opportunity to attend the Trainers EDGE training last year. What I consider, beyond Wood Badge, the best training I have been through in Scouting regarding working with youth. The reason I say that is the Trainers EDGE gets into the nuts and bolts of teaching, coaching, and mentoring our Scouting, especially those that you are working with in leadership roles. The other thing I like about the Trainers EDGE is that it mirrors both Wood Badge course for adults and the NYLT and NAYLES programs for the youth.
In the Trainers EDGE you get the practical exercise of moving through the different modes of both learning and teaching. This is important when working with your youth leaders. When you have a better understanding of how they learn and how different teaching styles get to the young men, then they are more confident in their skills and the youth leaders have less and less frustration when it comes to working with their patrols.
I had a discussion with a Scoutmaster during the summer about this and his concern was that younger Scouts would not be able to handle the responsibility or even have the aptitude to lead other Scouts. I contend that every Scout has the aptitude. They all have varying degrees of or levels of skill, but all can be taught. In so far as responsibility, well that they develop and it is a heck of a lot easier to do with a patrol of friends than in a class room or other social setting.
What this Scoutmaster was really telling me was that he was not confident in how to train youth leaders, and that is understandable. His understanding of what he signed up for as a Scoutmaster was to go camping and teach knots tying and the like. That is where many of us start, but soon the job of the Scoutmaster becomes much more than just knots and pitching tents… and that is where training comes in. But the BSA training is not enough, you as a Scoutmaster or anyone that works with youth need to go the extra mile, take additional training, seek out those that can develop your skills and prepare you to work with the Scouts.
Whether it is additional training for outdoor skills like CPR, Climbing, or Whitewater rafting, or training on leadership you owe it to the Scouts of your unit to go above and beyond the Boy Scouts of America’s training continuum.
Wood Badge is a great place to start, then start looking around. Local outfitters typically have classes on outdoor skills and outdoor leadership. The National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) has a great catalog of training available. REI also has great opportunities in their Outdoor School. And there are many leadership development courses out there. The Disney Institute is a great resourse for leadership and management. I had the opportunity to attend the Disney Institutes leadership excellence course a few years ago, a real fine program that I am postitve has helped me as a coach, mentor, and teacher of Scouts.
Look locally, you will find great opportunities for you to improve yourself and in doing so, you will improve the unit you work with.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Now I am no Al Gore and certainly not as popular as Adam Carolla, in that I did not invent the internet and I don’t get Thousands of downloads a day but what a handful of us have done is tapped into this internet fad and turned it into something positive in the Scouting community.
I started Blogging on the 18th of July of 2007. The Podcast went live on March 3rd, 2008 and the rest they say is History in the making.. I suppose. I mean, its not about numbers and pats on the back, its about helping deliver the promise of Scouting and sharing this great organization that I love so very much. The fact of the matter is that it does reach out and touch folks.
I can not tell you how much email I get about the blog and podcast and for the most part it is all great stuff.
I rarely check numbers and oh and ah over how well the blog and podcast are doing, the truth of the matter is that I am always afraid I am going to see real bad numbers. Tonight I was messing around and checked out the numbers from my feedburner account. Now this won’t count number from iTunes (I think), but it really doesn’t matter. 106,009 downloads of the SMM podcast as of yesterday! Wow.. I am amazed. I would love to be able to pull those numbers monthly, but I will leave that up to Adam Carolla!
We are reaching out and making a difference in Scouting.. and that is all the pat on the back I need. It will surely keep me doing this long into the future.
Thanks Al, for inventing the internet and thank you all for listening and reading the blog! I really appreciate it!
Have a Great Scouting Day!
As promised in the last post, we are going to wrap up this topic with a few FAQs that I have received relating to recruiting and building the program. It is fair to say that the last few blog posts have hardly scratched the surface of this subject and that working toward building and maintaining a great Scouting program is on going and lots of work. The key is that the Scouts own the process and have great support from all of the adults of the unit. That would include the Committee, Scoutmaster and Assistants, and parents.
So here you go.
What if your unit is just starting out and the Scouts are not mature enough or old enough to take on this level of planning?
Good question, the simple answer is this, train them. Be a mentor through the process. Make lots of suggestions but allow the final decisions to be theirs. Newer Scouts may not be able to articulate what they want and certainly may not have the planning experience of older Scouts, but they do know what they want out of Scouting. They want adventure, they are looking for a challenge, and even though they won’t admit it, they are looking to learn something. So training the young Patrol Leaders Council is critical.
What do I do about my unit that wants to do the same old stuff year after year?
This may not be all the problem you see it as. Remember, this is their program. If they are happy doing the “same old stuff” and that is what they are planning, then let them do it.
OK… you really didn’t think I would let that one that easy now did you? Ask yourself this. Are the Scouts having fun? Is the unit losing membership? Is the unit gaining new members? What are your older Scouts doing?
The first few questions are the easy ones, the last one is important. If your older Scouts are engaged, having fun and sticking around, then what they are doing is what they want to do. No matter how boring or unexciting that is to you. On the other hand, if they are not engaged, not having fun, and not sticking around, then you have a problem and I would suggest a few things.
First. Get a copy of the Troop Program Resource Books. Introduce it to your Patrol Leaders Council and allow them to use it in planning.
Second. Show up at the next planning session with a number of things (places, activities etc) that you think they would be interested in. Give them to the Senior Patrol Leader and say something like, hey check out this stuff I found, it may in neat to see or do. Chances are they may work it into the plan.
Finally. Get some help from folks in your area. A local climbing outfitter, the local Scuba shop, a rancher near by that may allow the Scouts to come and ride horses or camp on his land. Bring in guests to the meetings that talk about adventure and Scouting. Use these resources to light a fire in the Scouts you have. When they see the endless possibilities that Scouting offers, they may just jump on it and work it all into their plan.
How do you work advancement into the plan?
Advancement is one of the eight methods to achieve the aims of Scouting. Using the Troop Program Resource books is a great help because it outlines throughout each activity what advancement opportunities are available in the out come of each plan. That is a great place to start.
I am not a big fan of using meeting time to work on merit badges or rank, but setting some time aside each week is a good idea.
When it comes to the planning part though, here is the suggestion that I make to the PLC. Make it one of the Troops goals in the plan. Then come up with a plan, hopefully at the Patrol level to complete the goal. For example; The goal is that everyone in the Patrol earns at least one rank or merit badge this year.
Don’t get so hung up on advancement that you forget about a great program. Advancement comes when the Scouts are engaged and having fun. Participation is what you need to look for. When they are participating, they will advance.
Ok that will do it for this post. Thanks for the questions that were emailed to me regarding this subject.
You can email me and ask questions as much as you like. Send your email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a Great Scouting Day!