In the last post, we got a pretty good feel for the general attitude toward the “Merit Badge Mill” for a lack of a better term. It seems that there is not a lot of support for this style of merit badge earning.
Now, I did receive some emails that found that style the best practice in, as one guy put it “the world we live in”. But those comments were far less than those opposed. In all fairness… I did ‘accept’ any comment that was made on the blog. I did not respond to all of the emails, especially the one that called me “Old fashioned and not in touch with today’s Scouts”.
Which led me to thinking this week… What kind of Scoutmaster are you?
It was brought to my attention that the 1998 Scout Handbook does not make mention of Baden-Powell. I have not checked this out for myself, but if that is the case, it begs the question.. Why?
But back to the subject at hand.. What kind of Scoutmaster are you?
Baden-Powell said in “Aids to Scoutmastership” that we need not be “Know it all’s”
To be a Scoutmaster you need:
- He must have the boy spirit in him; and must be able to place himself on a right plane with his boys as a first step.
- He must realise the needs, outlooks and desires of the different ages of boy life.
- He must deal with the individual boy rather than with the mass.
- He then needs to promote a corporate spirit among his individuals to gain the best results
Now BP goes on to explain all these points in the book and I won’t just copy and paste the whole thing here.. Google search Aids to Scoutmastership and get your own copy and read it. But I will say that if you do as BP says.. you may just be a good Scoutmaster.
Scoutmasters should be a friend to the Scouts. He should remember that these are boys and not adults. We ask a lot from these young men which is all a part of the program, but at the end of the day they are boys. They have issues at home, school, sports teams, and the everyday life of a teen ager. So for the Scoutmaster that places himself on the “right plane” with the Scouts does a better job understanding them and working with them as they grow and develop.
The Scoutmaster needs to understand where the Scouts are in life. Once again, they are not men, they are boys and they all grow and develop at different rates. Some 14 year olds are more mature that others. Some 12 year olds mature faster than some 15 year olds. So it is important that the Scoutmaster works with the Scouts individually and not paint broad strokes with his Scoutmaster brush. At the same time, the Scoutmaster needs to build the team up as well as the individual. The team (Troop and Patrol) is an important part of the Scouting program and a huge part in developing young men.
On the other hand. And I know too many Scoutmasters like this, they are ‘roped’ into doing the job, they have no real desire to do the job but they do it because their son is in the troop, and they have no desire to learn the program or assist in running it right.
Now is that a subjective statement. Not so much. In the introduction to being a Scoutmaster in the Scoutmaster training program, the trainers introduce the new Scoutmasters to the 8 methods of Scouting. And with few exceptions the methods have remained the same for 102 years. Those same methods that BP himself outlined.
In both Aids to Scoutmastership and Scouting for Boys, you can find all of the methods that we currently use to achieve the Aims of Scouting.
The Patrol being the foundation for the Scout to start learning. The ideals found in the Scout Oath and Law as well as the motto and slogan take that foundation and apply it to their daily lives and the attitudes that shape the Patrol as a group. Scouting is done and should always be done in the outdoors with a Patrol. The Outdoor program is fundamental in the Scouting program. It is as BP said “our classroom”. Advancement opportunities set challenges and goals for the Scout to meet. The Advancement program tests the Scouts ability to manage his goal setting and give him a measurement of his own success. Not the success of the unit, but himself. The association with adults is a method that is often confused. Confused, because it is a method for the Scout.. not the adult. In associating with adults the Scout learns to manuever through the world. It places the Scout in a position to learn to be comfortable in job settings as well as social settings. The adults role in this method is to be a good example. Personal Growth is perhaps one of the most important methods that is often overlooked by Scoutmasters that do not take a personal care for each of the Scouts in their Troop. The Scoutmaster that does the job for a set amount of time or because no one else would take the job often look at Scouting as a camping club. Merit badges just happen at Summer camp and it really doesn’t matter if there is personal growth in the individual Scouts. I mean, after all you only have to care for them on Monday nights and one weekend a month… right? The uniform is where I see most of the lack of care for methods. Cost is always an excuse, but rarely a solution is given. The uniform has been a part of Scouting since the very beginning and should remain a method as long as Scouting exists. It is not a financial burden if the Scout believes and lives the part of the law that suggests that he is “Thrifty”. Adults create the burden by not enforcing the standard. To many parents fail to see the value in Scouting’s values and would rather take the easy way out and just say that it can’t be done. Hog Wash! And finally, when it comes to methods Leadership development. Now, I do know that I put this one last and that is not how they are listed… but here is where I see a big gap in the ways in which Scoutmastership is practiced.
Leaders are made, not born and sometimes that trial and error called learning is not pretty. The Patrol and Troop are the practice grounds for leadership development. And to be honest.. it’s real ugly sometimes.. that is when the good Scoutmaster needs to allow it to be ugly. Parents don’t like to see that.. but it is the best way for a Scout to learn. Mistakes are opportunities to learn as long as the Scoutmaster is there to teach, coach, train, and mentor the Scout. By applying “Guided Discovery” the Scout will develop into a leader. He may not be the next Patton or [insert your favorite leader here], but the lessons he learns while discovering his leadership potential will serve him later in life.
In short.. What kind of Scoutmaster are you? Are you one that embraces the lessons taught us by Baden-Powell or do we throw it all out the window for “modern thinking” and convenience. “Old fashioned and not in touch with today’s Scout”. I don’t know about you, but can you disagree with the Values of Scouting? How about the methods? These are time-tested and work well when applied by caring Scoutmasters.
If that makes me old-fashioned… so be it.. but if you do as BP suggests.. you can never be out of touch with today’s Scout. They are the same as they always have been… they are boys looking for adventure.
I am curious to hear what you have to say about this. What kind of Scoutmaster are you?
“What the Scoutmaster does, his boys will do. The Scoutmaster is reflected in his scouts. From the self-sacrifice and patriotism of their Scoutmaster, Scouts inherit the practice of voluntary self-sacrifice and patriotic service.” – BP in Aids to Scoutmastership
Have a Great Scouting Day!