It has been an interesting week or so and the blog once again, while always on my mind took a back seat to the daily working of being a Scoutmaster. As we prepared for the camp out and then went out on another winter adventure the Scouts of Troop 664 kept me busy
and looking for new ways to reach our Scouts and peak their interest.
On our way home from our camp out yesterday, I had an interesting conversation with the Senior Patrol Leader of our Troop. We were talking about the morning and some of the challenges that we encountered. Taking advantage of a good teaching and learning opportunity we shifted the conversation to what we could have done different. James talked about how he could have been a better example in that he should have got packed up before the young guys allowing him to be more available to assist were needed and he could have worked better as a team with the Assistant Senior Patrol Leader and the Patrol Leaders. I told him that he was right, a leader needs to always set the expectation by being a good example and that pretty much goes for everything. We talked about some of the decision-making of the group this weekend and why some Scouts seem to get it and others don’t. It comes down to decision-making and common sense. We agreed that common sense is not as common as we would like and then talked more about decision-making.
When it comes to making decisions, especially in a cold weather camping environment, there is a simple rule in that for every action there is a positive or negative reaction. The worst thing that a leader can do is nothing.
A Scouts skills is the knowledge base that his decisions are formulated and made from. The Scout can choose to do the right thing, or he can choose to do nothing. What we have seen from our Scouts is that when the make the choice to do nothing, they are cold, wet, and tired. In short, they do not have a good time. We have watched as Scouts that do not have fun on camp outs tend not to camp as much and lose interest in Scouting. There are a few arguments for and against. I have been told on one hand that it is my job to make sure that the Scouts have fun. I have also been told to stay the course. Now, before anyone jumps down my throat about this, let me tell you that we are not weeding kids out by camping in the snow and maintaining our Troop camping as backpackers. Every Scout that joins our Troop knows how we camp and see the calendar so they know when, where, and how we are camping, climbing, and find adventure. They make a choice at that time to join us or find another troop. As long as our Patrol leaders council wants to head down that trail, we will. We do a great job in training up our Scouts to be successful. But we require that they make a choice. They need to make a choice to learn or not to learn. That is up to them. Like I have explained over and over again, it is the jobs of the Scoutmaster and the Assistant Scoutmasters to assist Scouts in making it to First Class. I am not to interested in Eagle Scouts, that will come with hard work, determination, and developing as a young man. the skills learned and habits formed on the trail to First Class is the foundation of the making a man. Camping Skills, Citizenship, Fitness, and Character are all elements of the trail to First Class. But the first step on that trail is a choice.
So as I talked with the Senior Patrol Leader on the way home from the camp out we discussed possible reasons why the Scouts we have now are less mentally tough and unwilling to push themselves. Why can they not take what they have learned and apply it? Why have they not made the choice? Is it a lack of training? Is it a lack of want to? Is it something that we have done or failed to do? We could not put our finger on it. Whats different in the Scouts we have this year opposed to the Scouts we crossed over 4 years ago or even 2 years ago? We don’t really know. They all come from good homes, great parents, and none of them have learning disabilities… so they all have the ability to learn and make sound choices. So what is it? We will find out I guess.
In the mean time, what does this mean for the Troop? Tonight the PLC met and started getting ready for the next camp out. Next month we will head into the woods to develop our Wilderness Survival Skills. The plan won’t change and I am sure that some of the Scouts that have not been having a great time, well, they won’t go camping. I asked the PLC what they thought about that.. they said that it was fine, at least they won’t have to have bad attitudes on the camp out. I think the boys get tired of dealing with it too. It’s that “one bad apple” thing and the majority of the Scouts really would rather camp with the guys that want to be there and have a good time.So what? I think it is great the SPL is aware enough to have this talk. I am encouraged by a PLC that is willing to stay the course and take a part in having a Troop that they want to belong to, that they want to lead, and that they want to share with their friends.
We will have to see where this takes us. For now, we just get ready for the next outing and keep working with the young men that want to be there. These last few months have been challenging for the Scouts of our Troop, some are stronger for it, some developed better leadership skills because of it, and some have made a choice not to camp in the winter. I am ok with all of it.
What do you think? I think that things will be just fine. I think that the Troop will be fine and that we will continue to have great adventures in the future. I think that while some of the Scouts choose to turn away from challenges, most boys want to be challenged and want to see just how far they push themselves. I think this is the way boys are no matter how hard we try to be over protective and keep them in a bubble. Some how.. some way.. boys need to be boys and Scouts gives them that outlet when we provide the program and allow them to make a choice. That’s what I think. I am curious to see what your thoughts are.
Have a Great Scouting Day!