There is a Scouter out there named Larry, he is insightful and knows his stuff. I love to hear from him and see what his point of view is on various topics. Larry frequents Clarke Green’s Blog and Podcast also, so I get to hear a lot of what Larry thinks.
Larry recently sent a comment about the “Leadership challenge” post.
Unfortunately, it is hard to “thread” comments and so I wanted to post his comment (again) and make an attempt at maybe shedding some more light regarding the post from my point of view.
Again, I do not proclaim to be the end all be all authority on Scouting. Green Bar Bill I certainly an not. All I can and will ever do is try to help. Use the the tools that I know work and share them. The goal is to help deliver the promise of Scouting.. we all have our ways.. this blog and my podcast are just my way of sharing what I know… and believe me, I’m still learning.
So here is Larry’s comment.. the text in ‘Blue’ are my comments or counter points.
Thanks Larry.. and keep the comments coming.
That’s nice. Sounds good. It is a good analogy in some cases.
However. Hah, you knew that was coming :-)
It’s a little bit hard, difficult, almost impossible to bring the immediacy of a raging, hormonal, 17 year old in full pads running full tilt right at you and fully prepared to TAKE YOU DOWN! For instance, half way through a rapidly failing Troop meeting there are no crowds cheering, no scholarships and NFL salaries to be inspired by and lots of people trying to chase you down.
Thats right.. like I always tell our parents, leadership at the Scouts level is often an ugly process. The better part of a Troop meeting though is the coaching, mentoring and teaching that Senior Scouts, Assistant Scoutmasters, and a Scoutmaster offer. Rapidly failing Troop meetings are the result in part to failing to plan. The Patrol leaders Council can help in that regard. I understand what you are saying, but that is when the friendly voice of the Scoutmaster in teaching mode gently taps the SPL on the shoulder and asks him those leading questions on how he thinks things are going. That conversation then typically transfers to a Patrol leaders huddle and an attempt to get the meeting back on track.
I have seen this go the other way too, where the SPL, just calls the PL’s together and says “that’s it.. we’re done”… circles the troop up for vespers and calls it a night.
“Giving up is never the answer and failure is never an option.” Nice thought. Last week the SPL resigned. Said he was tired of the older guys not helping out and the younger guys are driving him crazy (along with the rest of us!). The motivation to make something happen has dissipated. The younger guys like to get down on the floor and play like a box full of puppies. (we call that “Poodling” in my Troop)Throw stuff. Call each other names. Slap and punch. Sort of like a bunch of pre-schoolers. This happens to all of us. That is exactly when the Troop Guides need to be at their best. Now, I know they don’t want to play baby sitter and yes that behavior gets old real quick, but… and you always know that is coming… BUT.. it is what they do at that age. Again, that is the leadership challenge and I would ask your SPL (as he is walking out the door).. what was the plan and how can we get back on track. I have found that when they are bored they get in trouble, act up, and generally Poodle. So the leadership challenge is to keep the meeting moving.. keep the young guys engaged in a task.. and not drag the meeting out forever. Do the business and be done.
There is no rule on the length of a Troop meeting.. and if you have parents that gripe about them being done early… well remind them that BSA does not stand for Baby Sitters of America.
Right now it’s a mess. The older, leadership Scouts were doing fine until this group of Webelos came along. They have been good instructors and motivators. There is a small cadre of medium aged guys that get it and have learned well. The lower end!?!? What a mess. The lower end will follow the upper end… that is leadership. So what happens when the quarterback just walks off the field, hands his helmet to the coach and plops down on the bench? Put in the Second string.. then the third string.. then … you get the point. Its all in the coaching and mentoring. The Scoutmasters job is to train the Senior Patrol Leader. Provide Purpose, Direction, and Motivation to the young man and help him understand that this is all just a challenge for him to over come. Then all the rest of the players head over to the concession stand for some goodies. The band plays one last tune and heads off to Dairy Queen. Nobody left but the other team and some coaches standing on the side of the field, scratching their heads. (Hint, I’m standing here scratching my head right now :-) ) Head to DQ and get a blizzard (M&M is my favorite) and start over… Again, Failure is not an option.. its an opportunity to learn, grow, and do better.
Thanks again Larry, I appreciate your comments and the comments of everyone that writes in to the Scoutmaster Minute! Keep ’em coming, I enjoy reading them.
Have a Great Scouting Day!