One of my favorite things to do as a Scoutmaster is sit with a Scout and have a Scoutmaster Conference. It is not only a requirement for the Scout to advance, but a great opportunity to learn.
I learn so much each time I sit down with a Scout and listen to them during the conference. Tonight I sat with two Scouts and learned more about them, the troop, and their development as Scouts. I learn when I listen to the Scout.
So here is how I do it. Keep in mind, I am like most Scouts (and leaders for that matter) in that I am a scatter brain. Back when I was a kid, it was called hyperactive.. now-a-days.. it’s grounds for medication.. but either way.. I really have to work at staying focused. So when I sit with a Scout, I need to give them 100% of my attention. So, I take their book, make sure that everything is signed and dated, sign my two boxes and then put the book away.
Then we start the conference.
The Scout then has all of my attention. I know what’s in the book, and it really doesn’t matter anyway. The Scoutmaster conference is not a retest, so we talk about what challenged him, what he learned, and what he is doing to get to the next level. Then we talk about leadership. I ask them, yes even at the Tenderfoot level, what they are doing to demonstrate leadership. This typically sparks lots of talk about where the Scout thinks he is in the spectrum of being a leader.
Using the EDGE method to teach is a Tenderfoot requirement, so I figure that he had to learn something about leadership there.
We discuss spiral learning and reinforce the skills that were learned along the way. This discussion usually leads to what the Scout is looking forward to.
We talk about School. Not because the Scout wants to, but because I want to know. We talk about girlfriends, and sports, and even how the Scout law works on a little sister. The conference is a talk that we have to learn. The Scout learns and I learn. I get to know them and they get to know a little more about me and how I see the world. They get to see how I demonstrate the Scout law in my life, and I get to learn how they are struggling to make the Law a habit in their lives.
The Scoutmaster conference is one of my favorite things as a Scoutmaster and I am lucky that I get to do them every week. Have a Great Scouting Day!
The rabbit comes out of the hole.. goes around the tree.. and back into the hole.. now pull…
It’s a bowline.
Its that simple. That simple to teach, that simple to do. And it’s a knot that every Scout must know.
BUT… how many Scouts will try 50 other ways to tie it? How many times will it take for them to get it right doing it “Their way”? It’s called the work around.
Many times we teach our Scouts, our kids, our co workers, something that is simple and effective. We teach them a method or a skill that is time tested and works just fine the way it was intended to be worked. And yet many will do their very best to find a “Quicker way” or a “Cooler way” to do it.
I watched this at our last camporee when Scouts from all over our district struggled to come up with new and unique ways of completing a skill. Now I am all for thinking outside of the box and I certainly am the kind of guy that believes that there are better mouse traps out there.. but when it comes to things that are already as simple as it gets, time tested or a method that is the way it supposed to be. Then I suggest the energy is spent doing the skill, task or method correctly the first time. I was amazed at the energy that Scouts put into to negative results.
Another way to look at this is of course the Scout Law. The other night I sat with a few Scouts for their Scoutmaster conferences. I always ask them what they think of the Scout law and what particular parts of it mean to them. The energy that a Scout will put out to miss the mark is something that I really do not understand. I guess its the fact that simple can be hard to these kids that gets me.
According to Webster the word Trustworthy means ‘worthy of confidence and Dependable’. I think this is a great application of the meaning when it comes to the Scout Law. Can we be confident in that Scout to do the right thing, to be a good man? Can we depend on him to make sound decisions and have good judgement? Simply put, the word literally means ‘worthy of trust’ and yet our Scouts will look for meanings that have little to do with it. I had one Scout talk about being Trustworthy like this. “Well it’s like not robbing a bank.. you know that I won’t rob a bank because my parents give me money. ” Ok.. not the greatest example, but when I hear answers like that, it means to me that they either don’t get it, or they are having a hard time articulating the answer. Either way, it’s always a good time for me to talk about keeping things simple and doing things right the first time.
So take a look at your Scouts. How much energy is wasted in looking for ‘the better or cooler way’ and never tying the bowline?
I’m just saying.
Now don’t let the word personal get you. Yes we want each and every Scout to grow, but we want them to find this growth within the context of Scouting’s values (found in the Oath and Law). Personal growth is a tricky method in that it will sneak up on you as the Scout develops. Each Scout will grow at his own pace and so we use tools and watch and guide his growth. First and foremost, his family. Stay in touch with his family, develop friendship and a relationship with the family. They should be able to seek your input and you should be able to offer your suggestions also. You see the Scout outside of the family context on camp outs and other events. When you see a behavior change, talk with the young man or ask the family if they are seeing something different. This is the tricky part. If you are not comfortable getting into their lives, well then, you can’t assist with this.
I recently got a call from one of my Scouts Dad’s. He was concerned about a change in behavior and wanted to know if I saw it. We ended up talking for about an hour about different parts of this young man’s life. It was a great opportunity for me to share some of the things that I see and he was even open to hearing what I thought on the matter.
The second tool we use is the Scoutmaster conference. I have said this before, but it is always worth saying again… the Scoutmaster conference is not all about rank advancement. You, Mister Scoutmaster are a mentor, a role model, a friend, use the Scoutmaster conference to get to know these young men and what makes them tick. You can assist in the personal growth of each and every Scout by talking and listening. When they know you care and want to listen, they will talk to you. Sometimes, you are a better set of ears than their parents or teachers. You are the guy that goes camping with them, plays games, and teaches them skills. They trust you. Don’t take advantage of this, but keep in mind that if you want these young men to grow into good men, you need to take an interest in their lives [outside of Scouting also].
And finally, the last tool set we will discuss are the various programs in Scouting. The religious emblems program, doing a good turn, and being helpful at all times. These programs/values will shape the young man and develop good habits in him that will last. You will see growth in the character of the Scout as he serves others and learns about his spiritual world. But there probably is no device so successful in developing a basis for personal growth as the daily Good Turn. Have a Great Scouting Day!
This method is somewhat confusing, especially at the troop level for parents coming from the Cub Scout program. I say this because it is different.
I’ll explain as we go. First and foremost, no matter what level of Scouting you participate in Adult Association starts with being a good example. An example of what right looks like, attitudes, habits, and the Scout Oath and Law. This is a lofty ask, but it is without a doubt the most important part of being a Scout leader when talking about the methods.
How you carry yourself, talk and act, wear the uniform, demonstrate skills, and teach and coach these young men will leave a lasting impact. Remember that you must practice what you preach. I hate to say this, but if you unwilling to be a good example, Scouting does not need you.
Adults need to model the expected behavior and demonstrate good character.
We practice adult association when we conduct boards of review, Scoutmaster conferences, and work with the Scouts on skills and merit badges. They see modeled behavior and we expect them to act like we do. So we need to be our best.
Scouts look to adults for guidance, for coaching and a person to be a mentor. We are that person in Scouting.
I have seen too many adults that carry this a bit far. Boy Scouts are still Boy led. We need to know when adult interaction or interference is needed. Two deep leadership can be achieved from a safe distance while maintaining a healthy level of adult association.
Cub scout parents that come to a Troop often find it hard to get used to adults not being so hands on. But as I often say, there are no adults in a Boy Scout troop who’s patch say’s leader.
We teach, coach, train, and mentor and maintain a healthy adult association through modeled behavior that reinforces good character, citizenship, and fitness. Oh and we are supposed to have fun too!.. Remember the Scouting way.. that’s the game with a purpose! Have a Great Scouting day!
Welcome back to the SMMPodcast, we dusted off the mic and got back to talking Scouting! We are trying out a new segment.. “The Mobile Thought”.. In this show, we talk about Reverence, Troop Elections, and Youth Leadership.
Hope you enjoy the show. Let me know what you think. Have a Great Scouting Day! Direct LINK
As always, the conversations that we have with our Scouts are so telling and rekindle hope that these young men are going to bring so much to our future. Last night I told the Troop of our pending move. I did not want to get into the weeds with the boys, but made an open invitation to both the Scouts and their Parents that if they wanted to talk about our situation I would love to sit with them and discuss the matter.
A few parents came up after the meeting and asked about the move and why, and then gave us a vote of confidence and assured us that we were doing the right thing. Then the best part of the night happened. Two new Scouts asked if they could have a Scoutmaster Conference.. one of those “Stop the World” conferences that we promise we can have any place, any time.
These two Scouts crossed over into the Troop in November. They wanted to know if I could share with them the reason why we were asked to leave. They wanted to know if the Troop was going to be ok and if I was going to stay.
The discussion led me to talking to them about principles and values. You see, I told them, this issue has become one of integrity. We believe as Boy Scouts (and Scouters) that to be good men, we must have integrity. We find that in the 12 points of the Scout Law and the Promise that we make when we say the Scout Oath.
A man of integrity must be Trustworthy. This is the bedrock of forming values. Without Trust and Honesty you can go no further in a relationship. These two Scouts wanted an honest answer and I could only give them the answer (s) that I was given. I asked them what they thought about the explanation. Neither one thought it was sufficient and did not understand why were asked to leave. I then explained that arguing or debating a principle issue can only really be done effectively when both parties have principles strong enough to fight for or debate about.
Here is where the discussion really got good. We talked about where these principles come from. Church, Family, Beliefs, The Scout Oath and Law. They explained to me what they thought of principles and shared with me their values and how they got them. They come from good homes, parents that care about them and desire the very best for them. They have learned in their short 11 years to be kind, respectful, and inquisitive. They are curious about how things work in their world.
We sat for about 25 minutes and talked about the current issue as well as their goals and dreams in Scouting. I really appreciate the Scouts and their candor. I was happy that they took the time to learn more and that they are not afraid to ask when they feel the need to know.
These guys are going to go far in Scouting and life. Having discussions like last night are really why I love being a Scoutmaster.
When was the last time you really sat and talked with a Scout? Have a Great Scouting Day!
Last night I sat with a couple Scouts, they just crossed over on Friday and were having their Scoutmaster Conference for their Scout Badge. I love this first conference, it is a great way to learn about the new Scout and a little about where he comes from. What amazes me is how open they are in that first conference. They always have questions and for the most part, they are anxious to get to Eagle.
Last night as one of these young men recited the Outdoor Code, he stopped and asked if he could ask a question. I said sure… so he asked, “Why do we need the Outdoor Code when you make us know the Leave No Trace stuff?” I thought for a minute and told him that I would have to get back to him with a good answer.
I wanted to give him the pat answer of how the Outdoor Code is in the book and is a requirement, but then I thought that Leave No Trace is also in the book and a Second Class Requirement. So that one doesn’t work. So I was thinking, why do we need both.
Lets review. The Outdoor Code:
As an American, I will do my best to -
Be clean in my outdoor manners.
Be careful with fire.
Be considerate in the outdoors.
Be conservation minded.
Leave No Trace Principles Plan Ahead and Prepare
Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
Dispose of Waste Properly
Leave What You Find
Minimize Campfire Impacts
Be Considerate of Other Visitors
The LNT program is obviously more in depth and covers every type of camping… The Outdoor Code is more of a pledge or promise.
The LNT program are not just rules, but part of the whole outdoor program. It is a skill set and an attitude.
The Outdoor Code is the promise that we make to live as a steward of the land.
I still do not have a great answer. I suppose that in the final analysis if I had a vote, I would just go with the Leave No Trace program. The Outdoor code, while traditional and easy to remember does very little with our Scouts to develop the attitude of stewardship and responsibility that is required for us in the wilderness and front country alike.
So I think when it comes down to giving this Scout and answer next Monday, its going to be a program vs. a code and how we use it to make a difference and protect our land.
Welcome Back! In this show you will listen in on a class I taught at our Councils Program and Training Conference. This class is on the Scoutmaster Conference. I used the National Supplemental training on the subject and if you would like to follow along with the slides from the class you can download them HERE.
The Program and Training Conference in our Council is a great event to improve your leadership skills, find new ways to provide a Quality program and learn more about our Scouting world.
I was asked to teach this year, as were most of the folks on Wood Badge Staff. It was a great experience and I hope to be asked again next year. It was a great opportunity to meet more Scouters from within our Council and expand our network.
Thanks for all the feedback and comments lately! I really appreciate it. As we get closer to show #100 I can feel the excitement growing in me to get more out and keep up the work of both the blog and the podcast!
Thanks for listening. Leave us some feedback and enjoy the show. Have a Great Scouting Day!
Yesterday I had the opportunity to be a trainer at our Councils Program and Training Conference.. PTC. I was asked to help teach a class on using Social Media and Websites with my Wood Badge buddy Adam. Then Jackie this years Coordinator asked if I would want to teach something else. I taught two sessions on the Scoutmaster Conference. A subject that I am not only familiar with, but passionate about. My good friend Larry helped me out with that, in all honesty, all I did was the talking. He did a great job getting the material from the National syllabus and putting it all together in a Powerpoint presentation.
Both of the classes went real well and were very well received. The social media class went a lot better than I thought. It seems that as we discussed the options out there and how we use social media the audience seemed to warm up to the idea that social media and electronic communication is here to stay.
When it comes to social media and electronic communication I always go back to what Bob Mazzuca, our Chief Scout Executive said, ” We have to take Scouting where the Scouts are.” And they are on the internet, on their smart phones, and communicating rather effectively with other media outlets.
Our media class centered on communication to and within the unit. It was nice that Adam is a Cub Scouter and so he brought the Pack perspective to the discussion. I on the other hand represented Boy leadership and how the Scouts use social media in the daily function of the Troop.
We talked about the Do’s and Don’ts of using Web sites, Twitter, Google + and Facebook focusing a lot of attention on who should and should not use these outlets. Most of this discussion came down to permissions and monitoring of the communications being sent at every level.
We did two sessions of this class and in both, the participants had great questions and moved the discussion along with enthusiasm and interest. It was nice to see the diversity of the groups meaning, participants from every level of Scouting, ages, and genders. I hope that we made everyone comfortable with social media and how it can be used in Scouting to not only communicate to each other, but to tell Scouting’s Story in a positive light.
The class on the Scoutmaster Conference was equally received. A lot of interest among the Scoutmasters and soon to be Scoutmasters that attended. I recorded one of the sessions, so I will see how that turned out and post it as a podcast.
So until I get that cleaned up and ready, I think I will leave that subject for another post.
All in all I had a great time at the PTC this year and will be an instructor again next year. It was really great to see all my Wood Badge friends… almost like going to a family reunion. We had dinner together last night and my head still hurts from laughing so much.
I like the idea of combining the Cub Scout Pow Wow and the Advancement extravaganza. I don’t know what the turn out in numbers was yesterday, but at a glance it seemed as if there were at least 400 participants yesterday. As this program grows I can see the numbers go up also. It is a great venue for training, fun, seeing program ideas, and fellowship.
Good job Cascade Pacific council! We’ll do it again next year!
You can read another perspective on this at Scouter Adams Blog. He’s my Troop Guide buddy and we had a ball yesterday together teaching fellow Scouters!
Funny how time fly’s when you’re having fun. This week has been an amazing week of Scouting and thus, I have not been on the computer much at all. The Outdoor channel is currently filming Scouts from my Troop on an amazing adventure for the series Scouting for Adventure.
Last night I sat down with the Key 3 of our District, we had a little meeting on the changes we were going to make in the coming year. The conversation turned to advancement. The subject “young Eagle Scouts”.
Now before I go any further, let me tell you what the Boy Scouts say on the subject.
YOU MAY NOT ADD TO NOR TAKE AWAY FROM ANY REQUIREMENT. PERIOD.
So having said that if a Scout completes all of the requirements and has everything signed off properly.. well then.. he’s an Eagle Scout.
Now some will argue.. and have, that a 13-year-old is too young to be an Eagle Scout. After all, we are looking for a young man who has DEMONSTRATED Leadership, a young man who has been an ACTIVE member of his Troop, a Scout that is KNOWLEDGEABLE in skills etc. These are all super valid points and I agree whole heartedly. Now, here is the rub. Has a 13-year-old done all of that.. I mean really done it all. Sure he may have served as a Patrol leader in a New Scout Patrol. Went to one summer camp and earned a bunch of merit badges, and can do the basics that got him to First class, but has he developed enough to truly test his leadership at the Troop level? Has he been that active?
I don’t know.
The other argument against is the maturity level of the young man. At 13 is he mature enough to understand his responsibility as an Eagle Scout?
I don’t know.
An argument for young Eagle Scouts is that they now can spend more time in the Troop as an Eagle Scout. Ok.. I buy that.
But I don’t know.
You see, boy develop at different rates and stages. They are all different. I know some 13 year olds that act 18 and some 18 year olds that act 12… so that is not a good measure. I know some young Scouts that develop the skills at a much faster rate than some of the older Scouts.. so that is not a good measure.
So here is the bottom line in my opinion. Becoming an Eagle Scout is not an excercise in passing through gates. Becoming and Eagle Scout is all about BECOMING the Eagle, developing leadership skills, demonstrating the skills of Scouting, and learning about the world around him. The way I see it is that the young man must participate in five Scoutmaster conferences before his conference for Eagle. IF the Scoutmaster and the Scout have not had these discussions during those conferences, IF the Scoutmaster has failed to mentor and coach the Scout along and develop him, IF the Scoutmaster has signed off the book and in good consciousness said that everything was alright.. then the Scout should be an Eagle Scout.
So having said that…. a 13-year-old Eagle Scout? I have not had one in my Troop.. and it’s not because any adult has thrown up a road block. If the book says to demonstrate.. the Scout demonstrates, if the book says to show, the Scout shows, if the book says to explain, the Scout explains. If he does not do it correctly.. it does not get signed off.
If the book says to serve in a leadership role for 6 months.. then the Scout is expected to actually serve in that role. And during the Scoutmaster conference explain what he did while in that leadership position.
You see the road to Eagle is not meant to be hard, but it is meant to allow the Scout to navigate the program and develop. You become an Eagle Scout over the course of the journey.
There are obstacles to over come and challenges to face, that is the way the program is set up. Can it be done by 13, I suppose. But at the end of the day, does the Scout get a patch out of it.. or a life experience?
I don’t have the answer here, the book does. I can only give you my take on the subject.
I am curious to know what you think. Drop us some feedback, leave a comment, or shoot an email! Have a Great Scouting Day!