It is often said that “Every Scout deserves a Trained Leader”… well.. sure.. Every Scout certainly deserves a trained leader, but do you really think that the Scout cares?
The saying should say, “Every Parent deserves a Trained Leader”. Right? After all, the training is more for the parents right?
The Scout does not care that you know the rules of the safety sandwich. The Scout does not care that you have been to wilderness first aid. The Scout does not care that you are climb instructor certified or that you have completed Youth Protection.
Ahhh… But the parents do.
They come to a unit and want to know that as they drop off Tommy Tenderfoot on Friday night that the guy driving the car is insured, trained, and will bring back their son in the same condition that he climbed into the Suburban heading to the camp out in.
Parents care a lot about the training that the Scout leader has. I for one would not send my sons out with a Scout leader that was not trained. I would not let my son go out into the woods with a guy that got his training by watching Survivor man on TV once.
Nope. The parents deserve a trained leader. I would go further to insist that every leader that goes near a Scout is trained, and if I were King for the day.. any leader that did not get trained or refused to spend the time, energy and money to get trained would not be allowed to be a Scout leader.
Boy Jerry.. that’s harsh… Really? Like I said, I would not let my kid go off for the weekend with a guy I don’t trust.
Training builds that trust. At least it opens the door to trusting the leader.
I have talked a lot on this blog about leadership. It goes not just for our youth leaders, but the adults too.
Think back to the 4 “C”s I discussed.
Don’t you want your adult leaders to be Competent and have Courage? Compassionate and Candor?
Those are all things that come with training.
Our Troop goes climbing every year. We have 8 climbing instructors in the unit. Why? Because it is the right thing to do.
We have multiple Wilderness First Aid certified leaders and First responders. Why? Because we go looking for adventure and we are not near a parking lot. It’s the right thing to do.
We go winter camping at least 3 times a year. We have cold weather instructors and skilled leaders that know winter camping skills and stay up on gear and techniques. Why? Because we will never put a Scout in harm’s way.
The point here is that when a Scout crosses over into our Troop the parent knows that we care and are willing to do our very best for their son. They can rest assured that we are trained and will take care of their boy.
Every one of the Assistant Scoutmasters, the Committee Chair, and me are all Wood Badgers. Why is that important? We all believe in life long learning and are committed to being better. Wood Badge demonstrates to our Scouts and their parents that we are serious about training and taking care of their sons and more importantly, that we want to do Scouting right.
So every parent does deserve a trained leader. Get trained or get out. It’s that simple if I were King for the day.
On a side note. I have been doing this Scouting thing for some time now and have served at the District level also. Being the District Program Chairman and later the District Chairman, I had access to lots of reports that really don’t mean much. The one thing that did mean something to me was the amount of units that struggle in multiple areas. Membership, activities, etc.
The common thing that we saw in EVERY unit that struggles are UNTRAINED Adults. You do the math.
Get trained for your Scouts.. and your Parents.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
It is often said that “Every Scout deserves a Trained Leader”… well.. sure.. Every Scout certainly deserves a trained leader, but do you really think that the Scout cares?
Initiative is really what makes leadership work. Those leaders that understand their Patrols [the make up of the guys, how they are motivated, and their skill levels], know what right looks like, and have an idea of the plan, should be able to get anything done.
But the one thing that can not be purchased or taught is initiative.
Initiative comes from an understanding that “I am a leader, and I know what needs to be done”.
No matter what the situation, in the absence of other leaders and specific instruction, this get done by leaders that demonstrate initiative.
A leader should never have to wait till he is told to do something when it is clear that it needs to be done. We all know that the first thing we do when we get to camp is set up the tents. Patrols leaders should not wait for the SPL to tell them to do the task, they should take initiative and get it done. The same can be said for any and all the tasks that make up our Scouting experience.
In order for a leader to develop initiative, he must know the plan and have the skills. Knowing the plan is key. This means that a Patrol leader should be at the PLC meeting. This way he ensures that he knows what is coming up. He can then prepare himself and his Patrol.
A leader should never wait to begin working on the plan.
Say the Troop is going on a 25 mile Backpack trip. Right away the Patrol leaders knows 3 things. 1. We need to eat.. so lets plan a menu. 2. We will be carrying our gear.. so lets find out what we need and divide the gear up. 3. Finally, who’s going? and do we need to shake down before we go?
This is initiative, doing what needs to be done without instruction or direction.
The initiative that a leader demonstrates can be the difference between a task done well and a task incomplete.
We all know what right looks like and have the skills needed to be good patrols. Initiative is the difference.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Before I get into today’s post I want to thank every one for their interest in the review of Scoutbook.com. Unfortunately I was only given three free subscriptions and they went to the first three emails I received. But the response was overwhelming. 50 of you emailed for a shot at the subscription.
So the folks at Scoutbook.com have given me another offer… if you subscribe for a year of Scoutbook and put in THESCOUTMASTERMINUTE in the coupon code at check out you will get 10% off your subscription.
Thank you to Scoutbook.com and thank all of you for supporting me and them.
Now on with the regular scheduled blog post…
Baden Powell understood young men, he had a connection with the way they learned, developed and reacted to teaching styles and learning environments. In the following excerpt from the Lessons from the Varsity life by Lord Baden Powell of Gilwell he discusses the Scout law.
1. A SCOUT’S HONOUR IS TO BE TRUSTED.
2. A SCOUT IS LOYAL.
3. A SCOUT’s DUTY IS TO BE USEFUL.
4. A SCOUT IS A FRIEND TO ALL.
5. A SCOUT IS COURTEOUS.
6. A SCOUT IS A FRIEND TO ANIMALS.
7. A SCOUT OBEYS ORDERS.
8. A SCOUT SMILES AND WHISTLES UNDER ALL DIFFICULTIES.
9. A SCOUT IS THRIFTY.
10. A SCOUT IS CLEAN IN THOUGHT, WORD AND DEED.”
Scouting across the world adopted the law and modified it to meet the needs of the national programs in which they applied. But the rule of DO and not Don’t carried throughout. We learn through our Scout Law what we should Do and Be, not what we should not do or be. Unlike the 10 commandments that teach us what not to do and be, the Scout Law encourages a life of Service and ethical attitudes. It gives us a starting point from which we test our decisions and actions that follow.
I found it interesting that the other day I over heard a man talking about the “Say it out loud test”. This tested whether or not one should engage in something that may not be sound. The way it works is that before you do something, say it out loud. If it does not sound right in your head… don’t do it.
Baden Powell encouraged us to DO the right thing. He did not want to burden us with a list of DON’Ts… DO be Trustworthy, DO be Loyal, DO be Helpful, DO be Friendly, DO be Courteous, DO be Kind, DO be Obedient, DO be Cheerful, DO be Thrifty, DO be Brave, DO be Clean, and DO be Reverent. Putting this positive attitude in our rules to live by makes it easier. We all enjoy it when we are given opportunity and latitude. When I am told that I can do something, I feel a lot better than when someone tells me I can’t.y it out loud. For example, if you are going to rob a bank. Say it out loud. It just sounds wrong… then don’t do it.
Another example; “Hey lets all put a knife in the wall socket”… say it out loud… it does not even sound right, does it? Then don’t do it.
As Scouts and future leaders of America, we encourage you to BE, KNOW, and DO. You know what right looks like.. you have the power to DO it!
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Mental toughness is a great leadership trait. It allows the leader to think clear and make good decisions. I recently ran into an article in Backpacker magazine that reinforced some of the leadership training that I learned early on in the Army and it applies real well in Scouting and out-door adventures.
Mental toughness is a skill that needs to be developed and practiced as a result the leader will be able to be a more effective leader.
First the leader needs to Set better Goals. Again, we turn to the SMART Goal method and make sure that our Goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. With those goals in mind as we prepare to lead a task or move a group from A to B we need to think about those contingency plans and risk management that go along with our goal. Clear goal setting is the map that leaders use to guide those they lead.
Second the leader must Monitor his self talk. Are your thoughts Purposeful, Productive, and giving yourself a chance for success. Remember that we talked about seeing success this week. Self talk needs to remain positive. It has been found that when the leader doubts himself or has a negative internal talk he will see those thoughts through. On the other hand a confident leader with a positive internal monologue will set his mind in motion for positive outcomes.
Third the leader needs to Control the Controllables. That is to say that you must wrap your arms around that which you can control and not worry about that which you can not. You will never be able to control the weather for example. You can plan for it, prepare for it, but you can not control it. You can control the skills and shape the conditions for your desired outcome. Stay focused on the things that you have control over. The number one thing that you control is your attitude and your ability. Having a positive attitude and the right skills are leadership traits that will give you more control over those that you lead. Do not misunderstand the use of control here. We are discussing the idea of control of situations, skills, and attitude. Not dictatorship style controlling of people.
And finally, the fourth thing to build mental toughness is Combat Catastrophic Thinking. This goes along with the self talk, but takes it a step further. Keep your mind from falling into the pit of worse case scenario thinking. Worrying about what can happen does not matter. Keeping it from happening using sound judgement and thinking about the risk and managing that risk is far more important than worrying about the worst cases.
I have seen leaders that get caught up in this trap and once they start with the “We will never make it” scenarios they adopt the idea that it is true. This attitude is contagious and will spread. This is critical when backpacking. The blame game starts to surface and one bad decision will lead to another.
Mental toughness is that attitude that “I am a leader and I will be successful”. It comes with confidence, practice, and when the leader realizes that the power of the mind is often greater than the power of the body.
The Scout Oath says to be mentally awake. Develop the mind to be mentally tough. We saw this at Philmont over and over again either in our crew or in other crews at the many camps we passed through. A Scout would give up on himself. He could go no further.. according to his mind. He could make it, but he was mentally weak. A 14 mile day on the trail is just 14 miles. You can do it when you set your mind to it. You can be the leader that inspires others to make it when you set your mind and attitude in the right direction. You can be the best cheerleader by putting one foot in front of the other and a smile on your face. No need to yell or cheer. Just encourage by your actions and mental toughness.
I once hiked with one of our newer Scouts. We had gone four and half miles and had four more to go to get into camp. He stopped on the trail and threw his pack to ground proclaiming that he would walk not one more step. I told him that it was fine with me and took my pack off and joined him on the ground. He was mentally finished. Video games had got the best of him and he did not want to finish.
I talked with him about our options. We could walk back to the cars almost five miles away, or we could push to camp four miles away, but either way we would have to hike out of there. The benefits of getting to camp were greater than going back to the car. Food, relaxing, and hanging out with his buddies versus going home without success, better known as being a failure. He looked around and saw that he was the only one not willing to move forward and the decision became easier for him to make. We got into camp and never had another issue with him.
To many people these days fear mental toughness. They think it is a trait of a bully or tough guy. It is a trait of leadership and one of being a man. We want to develop both leadership and manliness in our Scouts.
Something to think about in working with your leaders.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
When I went to Wood Badge in 2005 I was introduced to a goal setting and achieving process called “The Ticket”. The term comes from an old British Army practice of earning a ticket home. British soldiers that were assigned afar would begin working their ticket closer and closer to England, through assignments, favor, and of course money. The mission was to get home and each goal that was accomplished got them closer and closer to home.
Wood Badge adopted this system in name to teach and make real the process of achieving goals. Understanding ones Vision and clearly articulating that vision in project planning, no matter the size or scope. It can be a vision for a group or a personal vision, the process is the same.
Once the vision is clear and you understand your mission, it is time to get to the work of achieving that mission… getting what you want.
In Wood Badge, you are required to come up with 5 goals that directly support you mission. Those goal have to be specific to the mission. When you narrow your focus the parts of the mission become more clear and like eating an elephant, those bit size chunks become doable. That which you measure you accomplish. If you are trying to lose weight and you step on the scale daily, you are more than likely to lose the weight. You will be motivated to see that number go down. So your goals must be able to be measured, in other words how do I know it’s working or being accomplished. Your goals must be attainable. An unattainable goal is one that will never get done. You will get discouraged and failure will drive you away from accomplishing your mission. And your goals must be relevant and timely. Keep it to the task and set a completion date. Knowing when you are going to be finished and knowing that what you are doing is getting you closer to your goal gives you hope that you will accomplish your mission.
That is goal setting 101, and the system really works.
Since 2005 and the completion of my ticket for Wood Badge, I have written many tickets. We have used them in our family to look at our finances. We have used them to complete home projects. We have written them for our Troop and at work. But like anything else it takes “want to” and “stick to” to get them done. The tools really make it “easy to” and once you see that you can accomplish what you set out to do, you are successful.
As you may have noticed I have written a ticket for this blog. I want to make it better and what better way to do that than to work a ticket. You can follow that ticket here. You will notice that I made all of you my “Troop Guides” so you are my accountability partners on this. And I thank you.
Try writing a ticket for yourself. January is a great time to write one to achieve one of your New Years resolutions.
Let me know how that is going, I’ll be your Troop Guide to.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Last night at our Troop meeting I had the pleasure of meeting with a group of super enthusiastic Webelos. They came to the meeting to wrap up their Arrow of Light requirement of participating in a Scoutmaster Conference.
During the course of our discussion, we did it as a group, I talked about the Scout Oath and Law and gave them some pointers for not only knowing how to say the Scout Oath, but how to remember the promises you make in saying the Oath and living it daily.
I explained to them the three promises.
Duty to God and Country. It is important to always remember our Duty to our God and this great Country of ours. Our God that has blessed us and continues to pour out his love for us. No matter how you view that God or by which name you call him, he has given us so much and we need to remember our Duty to love him and serve him with all of our Heart, our Soul, and our Mind. And this Country, no matter what your political slant is is a Country that is free. A Country that still values Liberty over all. It is our Country that we call home and we need to serve it where and how we can.
Duty to Other people. We pledge to help other people at all times. We need to be of help in our community, our home, and everywhere that we have an opportunity to make a difference. It is when we have a Duty to others that we learn to live with an attitude of selfless service.
And finally, our Duty to our Selves. To keep ourselves Physically Strong, Mentally awake, and Morally Straight. When we remember our promise to ourselves we can be a better person for others. Staying strong, fit, we can be an example of wellness and enjoy a life without the burden of illness. Being mentally awake we continue to learn, to sharpen our skills, and to be aware of the needs around us. And to be morally straight keeps our internal compass of right heading the way that makes us the people of Character that we are. It guides us to do the right thing at all times.
Those three promises can be found in the Scout sign, a daily reminder to live the promises that we make each time we say the Scout Oath.
We say the Oath aloud each Monday night at our Troop meeting, this is an accountability measure. We all hear one another say the Oath and we hold each other to the promises that we make.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
I recently was asked to review a new “Scouting Book” by new author Greg Cieply. I quickly read the book and posted a review on Amazon. After reading the book, I thought it would be a great idea along with Greg to interview him here on the blog.
Now doing a blog interview is new to me, so we thought it best to do it kind of like they do in the magazines. So here it goes.
Greg Cieply is a Scouter and Scoutmaster of his Troop 175 in Niles Illinois. He has just completed his first book called “Super Secret UnderCover Campfire Badges – Cool ideas to make any meeting or camp out more livelier, enriching and more FUN” – available in paperback or Kindle at Amazon.com
The book is a collection of 18 fun, easy and educational activities that any group of boys on a camp out can use to make their time together more enriching. Greg has been a Scouter for 10 years, recently attended the National Jamboree on the Pioneering Staff and has attended Philmont Scout Ranch in NM twice.
What inspired you to write your book?
I had been hearing lots of scouts talking about doing other “silly” merit badges – joking about the “Bee Keeping” merit badge at summer camp and a “duct tape” merit badge; novel things that Scouting would never allow. We had a counselor at summer camp one year who all the boys would ask about doing the “bee keeping” merit badge. She thought of it as a joke at first, but it got to be kind of a way to get under her skin. I suspect the other counselors would get other scouts to ask her. As time had gone by I also noticed that lots of the boys spent most of their days learning hard science and much more formal things in scouting – First Aid, Cooking, Pioneering. These are all good ideas and very useful for a later life vocation. However I also noticed that many times a boy would be working on a merit badge that was quite useful and worthy of his time, but one that he just couldn’t finish or lost interest in. I also noticed – especially at summer camp – that when boys had lots of down time in camp that they squandered with activities which really provided no benefit to them. I’m all for fun and relaxation but why not make it “relaxation with a purpose” – just like Scouting’s mantra of “games with a purpose? So that’s kind of how this came about.
How did you come up with the subjects?
So after someone jokingly mentioned that there should be a duct tape merit badge, I starting thinking that there has to be other merit badges that the boys would be interested in doing, ones that wouldn’t take up too much of their time. Mini merit badges I guess you could call them. More importantly I was thinking about subjects that we would sometimes talk about sort of hush hush when the boys weren’t listening or ones they would talk about while I would be driving them back in the car. You know how that is, they’re talking about video games and pokemon and girls. Things like that which we’d never really talk about in a scouting context. So I starting thinking about all the possibilities that we could come up with that would keep them occupied. Since I really didn’t want to listen to them talk about all these things when I was driving, my mind started wandering and I came up with these ideas.
How much of the book can realistically be done within the Scouting program?
Well I think in that context a lot of the concepts are already covered. You will probably encounter a good number of these topics; though not too many. More often they are less specific and usually the requirements for learning or even just participating are much longer. Also in the regular scouting program we have merit badge counselors, but in the book, all the leaders, parents and even other scouts can be “counselors”. You simply need to make sure they have some knowledge about the topic. For instance if you have a scout who has done some magic tricks and or some kind of performance, then you can have him be a counselor. Typically I would suggest an age limit of say 14 and above to counsel, but it’s really up to you.
What is your favorite of all your “campfire badges?”
I really like the idea of the Science Fair Campfire badge. I’d heard about other troops doing something like this at camp and I thought it was really neat and a great way to build rapport among the Scouts, have some friendly competition and learn how to overcome obstacles. But the magic and stand up comedy ones are close to my heart as well. I love doing stand up and always loved to see my son (Adam, who’s on the cover) do magic. Those two will be a lot of fun for anyone that does this book.
What is your hope for this book? What are you looking to accomplish with it?
Well as I said earlier, I really felt that there were certain topics that boys need to know about but that often slip through the cracks. For instance, the men’s fashion campfire badge section requires a boy to tie a Windsor knot, or even a bow tie knot. (This isn’t as hard as they make it out to be in the movies). However this probably isn’t addressed in any regular Scouting merit badge. It’s more like a life lesson that a Dad or an Uncle would provide for a boy on his first date or at prom. In a lot of cases we’re seeing more and more single Mom’s bringing their boys into scouting and that’s great. I’m sure there’s plenty of Moms who know how to tie a tie – my experience is that they don’t – but why not teach boys skills like this? And do so in the context of Scouting. I see that as a win win. And if a Mom wants to teach it, more power to her. YouTube or Pinterest is a great resource for that kind of thing. But the connection with an adult in the process is even better. If it’s a parent or an older scout that can pass along some good learning, then all the better.
You’ve been a scouter for 10 years, what has kept you going all this time?
Well like most leaders, it starts with a desire to help your own child accomplish important developmental goals in life. We all want the best for our kids and the more and more you get involved in the Scouting program, you see how it changes lives in such a positive way. When you see how much of a change it can make in your own child, you really start to see how it easily it can help others with very little work on your behalf. As time goes on you start to realize that someone had stuck it out and provided your son with the benefits of their knowledge and efforts and you should do the same. Pass it forward. I love seeing the look on the faces of Scouts when they are having fun, or learning something new. That inexplicable look of satisfaction and accomplishment they get when the achieve something memorable. Every time one of my Scouts earns a merit badge or advances a rank, I see how happy that makes them and it makes me incredibly happy as well. That will keep me going forever – (at least for an hour a week – per boy)!!!
Do you have any current book projects?
As time has gone by I keep thinking of new “campfire” badges that the boys can do, so there will probably be a part 2 and maybe even more. I’m also working on a book about Scouting and Health that I hope to have done by the summer. I expect it to be a great resource that’s also fun and interactive with the entire troop. I’m as excited about that one as I was about this one!
I would like to thank Greg for the interview and the information on the book. While it is not an “Official” Scouting book, I think it is a great resource for Senior Patrol Leaders and Scoutmaster that are looking for neat things to do with their Scouts. I can not tell you how many times I hear Scoutmasters talk about their Scouts wasting time. Well here is a possible solution that is fun and informative.
If you have a product, book, or neat idea that you would like to share and have promoted on the blog, drop me a note. You can email me directly at email@example.com
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Book cover picture taken from Amazon.com
No matter how many times I say it, it seems to always be there.. a theme… Like the opportunity to do a good turn daily is just a matter of opening your eyes, a another theme for this week has rendered itself in front of me.
It seems that everywhere I turn this week, at work, on the radio, daily devotion, whatever.. the idea of being grateful keeps coming up. And so it got me thinking about just how grateful am I?
My thoughts immediately turn toward those things closest to me. My family. I am so grateful that I have a wife of 22 years. She is my partner and my best friend. We have been through it all together. She is the mother of my three amazing kids. Yes, I love to brag about my kids. Our son that is serving in the Army, I am grateful for him. He has become a great man. Our daughter who is a college student. She brings us so much joy. I am grateful for the way she is becoming a neat women that has compassion and a heart to be helpful. And then our youngest son who is going to graduate from high school this year. An amazing athlete and student. He has a heart as big as the moon and watching him grow and become the person that he is has been fun. None of this without it’s challenges, but for all of it I am grateful.
My parents are still around and close by. I love the fact that my kids all have the opportunity to grow up with their grandparents, something I did not get to do. I am ever so grateful for the lessons that my parents gave me that shaped me into the person that I am.
My home, as in my Country. The greatest Country on Earth.. says me. I am grateful that I am an American. A land where I don’t have to like or agree, because we have liberty. A Country where I have opportunity to go as far as I want to. I land that rewards hard work and drive. A Country that has lots of problems and a government that drives me up the wall, but it’s still home and I am grateful that I live here.
I am grateful for my health. I can still run and play and get out in the woods. I have never had a major health issue and have the ability to provide for me family because I am healthy.
I can talk, I can see, I can lift, I can move. I am grateful.
Scouting. A program that is all about the things that I believe in and love. Character, Citizenship, and Fitness. The great outdoors and making young people in to good older people. A program that I know works. I am grateful that I belong to a great troop. A committee that wants to keep me around. Assistant Scoutmasters that are fun to work with, great men that practice what they preach and are fantastic role models. And of course those young men that keep showing up every Monday night. Man am I glad that they stick with it.
I suppose the point of all of this is that sometimes we forget to show gratitude. We tend to take advantage of the simple things and often times let our thankfulness pass us by in our busy lives.
Its time that we take a moment and be grateful for all that we have. We have so much. If you are reading this, you are on your computer, tablet, smart phone, or other device. That means that you are doing ok.. be thankful.
Finally, I am thankful for all of you. I need to express that gratitude more often. Thank you for reading, subscribing or following, and thank you for showing interest in this blog. Thanks!
Have a Great Scouting Day!
This is sort of a follow up to yesterdays post.
As some of you know I collect Scouting Literature and memorabilia. I often like to look back at the old Scoutmaster handbooks and see how things are different. The one thing that I have seen that is constant is “the boy”.
I am going to quote extensively from the 1953 Handbook for Scoutmasters in the this post. I know that it is not cool to use so much material like that. But I really need the BSA’s help (from 1953) here to make my point.
On what a boy wants:
He wants to stand on his own two feet, to make decisions, to show his independence and initiative. He dreams of being a leader.
I see that in today’s boys. The problem is that they don’t know what they don’t know and so we need to teach them.
He wants action and fun. He wants to be in the thick of things, to run and fight, to be on the move.
But today we don’t want him running, he might get hurt. But today’s boy still wants to run, just watch him. Most of what we call ADD today is pent-up energy. We need to let the boy let it out.
He craves adventure, a change of surroundings. He want to experience new things in new ways, to feel the wind in his hair, the sun in his eyes. He wants to escape, to get away from his everyday life.
Boy, that sounds good does it not? Sounds like all the reasons we joined Scouts when I was a kid. Sounds like the reason a lot of still do Scouting. Why not let the boys do that to.
In 1953 the Handbook for Scoutmasters shared “We must take him as we find him, and help him grow into the man he hopes to be.” Sounds familiar. Bob Mazzucca told us this just a few years ago. The handbook reminds us also that we in Scouting do not have the sole responsibility for helping the boy become a man. “Most of it, as a matter of fact rests within his home, his Church, his School.” The 1953 handbook goes on to say; Then in our own work with the boy, let us strive to do well the things that we know that Scouting can do- and can do better than any other agency… He comes to us because he wants to become a Scout- he wants to Scout!
The book goes on to talk about the fact that boys do not come to Scouts to get more School (paraphrasing), but for the Outdoor thrills of hikes and camp. I will wrap up my last quote from the handbook with this.
That’s what he comes for. And that’s what we must give him: THE SCOUTING ADVENTURE HE EXPECTS!
By giving him pure unadulterated Scouting, we come closest to reaching our goal.
Now I don’t know about you, but in my opinion boys have not changed. It is the parents that have changed and as a result, they are taking the boyhood out of the boy.
A quick look back at not so long ago gives a peek into a world that allowed boys to be boys. I contend that nothing today precludes us from still letting that happen.
I am curious to see where you stand on this. Leave us a comment, lets talk about this. I want our boys back!
Have a Great Scouting Day!
First off.. if you are a Scout or Scouter read this post with caution. You may not agree with some of what I am going to say. Know that I love the Boy Scouts of America. I am always trying to tell our story in the best light of Scouting. I think it is the greatest youth program around. But in the discussion of membership it is fair that we take a look at ourselves and ask the question, Why is it Not cool to be a Scout? Please, if you disagree, read to the end and then leave a comment.
One of the most common things that I hear as a Scoutmaster during conferences is that sometimes our youth don’t feel that it is cool to be a Scout. Peer pressure at School and in their neighborhoods, comments made, and the fact that in most cases the uniform causes a boy to shy away from the program and certainly not invite his friends to join something that is not cool.
So why is that?
In my opinion one of the reasons is that we and the National Council do a terrible job at telling Scouting’s story. In our focus to deliver the “Main thing” we have lost sight on what Scouting has traditionally been about.
When I was a Scout, and I cringe at starting a sentence that way, but none the less, when I was a Scout I joined the Boy Scouts because it looked cool. I was drawn to the adventure. I was longing for to be in a group that Norman Rockwell painted climbing to the Tooth of Time or heading out for a weekend of canoeing. I watched as older boys embraced leadership and taught me skills in the outdoors. Older guys that played on the high school football team that we all looked up to but were not afraid to lead a song or skit at camp. Members of the Order of the Arrow that dressed like plains Indians and stood in canoes with torches blazing, landing on the shore and presenting dramatic ceremonies that left me wanting to be a part of their group.
While I am a believer that we need to take Scouting where the Scouts are… I am also a believer that we can take the Scout on an adventure that will challenge him and leave him wanting more. Instead, the Scouting story is that of catering to the lowest common denominator. We dumb things down because of parents that are over protective and do not understand Scouting.
We take away from the challenge and make it “Accessible”. I want every boy to have the opportunity to be a Scout, but I want every boy to accept the challenges that lead to self-reliance, life long skills, good character, and being fit. There is plenty in Scouting for all, but we have made it so restrictive that leaders no longer feel that they can seek and provide adventures in their units.
Bad press is the only press. That’s the story we get. It does not impact our youth that much, but it keeps Mom and Dad from bringing their son to us. When all we see is bad press, we judge the program based on it. Suddenly all Scout leaders are fat bone heads that push over billion year old rock formations. We are all looking to abuse youth. We are all.. well you get the point.
But what of good press. National does nothing. No ads on TV. Yes, I know that costs money, but what does the BSA waste each year fighting in the courts? How much does the BSA waste in preaching to the choir? They target the membership campaigns to those who are already in Scouting and fail to tell our story to those that need to hear it.
We have been systematically removed from the Schools, the Churches are bailing, and parents see this as an organization that can’t keep it’s poop in a group. It’s all bad press and yet we do nothing to turn the tide of the bad publicity.
We tend to circle our wagons and rally the troops from within the organization, but that’s it.
I watched a great video the other day on YouTube. Rex Tillerson, the former BSA President talking at the National Meetings of the BSA about the new changes that are taking effect. Of course I am talking about the new Non discrimination policy. What Rex had to say was fantastic, but you know, I bet only Scouters saw it. Why was it not on TV? Why did the BSA not contact the major media outlets and networks and have that 10 minute video or parts of it in the main stream media? 10,358 views on Youtube.. and I bet they are all Scout people. A google search produced hits on the video all associated with Scouting websites, blogs, and of course the National office.
Scouting is for nerds. Just ask your Scouts. That’s what they will tell you their classmates think. I recently sat with one of my Scouts at his Eagle Board of Review. One of the board members asked him if he thought Scouting was not cool. He answered that he thought it was cool, but it was not cool to those guys at his high School. The discussion kept going, “Why do you think that?” the Board member asked. “Because of what they think we do in Scouts” the Eagle candidate answered. “What do they think we do?” “Well, for the most part they think we go camping, but it’s mostly about crafts and artsy stuff.”
Crafts and artsy stuff. Yep, that is what we have become.
As a Cub Scout I remember doing craftsy stuff. Soap box derby races, pinewood derby and rockets led the list of cool things that we did as a den. The craftsy stuff when we got to Boy Scouts was Monkey bridges that actually crossed water. Signal towers that you could actually climb. Earning the Paul Bunyan Ax man award and actually chopping down trees.
But that’s all gone now. In the name of Safety? Really? No, in the name of insurance fear. I am not advocating getting Scouts hurt, but we didn’t then so what’s changed. We moved away from adventure and got wrapped up in the lowest impact don’t let Tommy Tenderfoot get dirty family camp.
Look at our merit badge program. Last summer at camp we had more Scouts earn the finger printing merit badge than the canoeing merit badge. It is what we have become.
We as parents have forgotten that our boys need to be boys. We as parents have forgotten that getting dirty is part of childhood. Playing in the woods and coming home when the street lights come on is part of the adventure of being a boy.
We are so afraid that every boy is a victim. Every boy is fragile and a broken bone is the end of the world. I once broke two bones in my arm when I was 10. What was I doing? Trying to fly. Not smart, but you know what, I am no worse for ware.
I watched a Patrol mate burn his eye brows off blowing on a camp fire. A great laugh and no harm done. I can remember coming home from camp outs and my mom not letting me in the house till I first took all my clothing off and hosed down in the backyard. I learned, I grew, and I am a better person for it.
I never earned Basketry or the Art merit badge, and if it were around in 1980 I would not have earned the game design merit badge. I did earn Backpacking, hiking, first aid, wilderness survival and those badges. Heck I joined Scouts for fun and adventure.. not more School work.
The Boy Scouts of America has a rich tradition and yes it has undergone many changes since 1910, but our story is the same. Our Story is still about Character building and Citizenship. Our Story is still about challenge and finding our limits and growing from experience. Our Story is still about great outdoor programs. Our Story is still about adventure and life long learning. Our Story is cool. But we don’t tell our story the way we want it heard. We don’t take the opportunity not to be just another YMCA or after school program, but to be the Boy Scouts of America full of the cool stuff that boys want and need.
We tell the story of numbers and membership, but forget that not everyone wants to be or should be a Scout. We tell the story of abuse and scandal without telling the story of the million great things going on every week at meetings and on monthly camp outs.
We get excited when we have a mediocre district event and wonder why our Scouts are not better recruiters. We miss out on telling our story in the media when things are going good. We miss the boat on getting ahead of bad press and showing the Boy Scouts for what we really are. We are cool, we are making a difference, we are what we say we are. But, for a group that prides itself of spinning a great campfire yarn, we don’t do a great job of telling our story.
Some thoughts. We clean up and get ourselves right. When we have guests come to our house, we straighten up, vacuum, and maybe even light a candle to make the place smell good.
Scouting needs to do that. We need to get our leaders to wear their uniform right and agree to deliver the promise of Scouting using the methods. Leaders need to be trained.
We need to get our Scouts in full uniforms out in the community doing something other than selling popcorn or marching in a parade. We need to show Scouts doing service and other cool stuff that really makes a difference.
We need to budget for local advertising. We need to get in the media in a positive light every opportunity we can.
We need to sell adventure… Not just another chess club. (I have nothing against chess, but we are talking adventure here) Boys want and need adventure.
We need to get with current outdoor practices and try new methods of camping. It is fun for the boys and increases the challenge for the whole unit.
We need to develop better relationships with the Forest service and Park Rangers. They are a great resource for Scouting.
Do you want Scouting to be cool? Then you need to act cool. You need to be cool. You need to look cool. Hey, we are cool… right?
I am tired of the BSA getting beat up for nonsense. I see so much potential in how we can move ahead to tell our story so we can change the perception of Scouting. And then, our numbers will go up, boys will stay longer, and we will be cool, not just to us, but to everyone.
Have a Great Scouting Day!