When it comes to advancement in the Boy Scouts, it’s not really rocket science. First, the Scout needs to want to advance. Second the Scout needs to do the work. And finally, the Scout needs to be tested.
This process can be easy for some Scouts while harder for others, but what I have learned in 10 years as a Scoutmaster is that it is all up to the Scout. I have seen Troops in our area that place more value on advancement than in other methods and I have seen some that do not at all. I think that we view it as one of the eight methods and my philosophy has always been that advancement will come when the Scout is actively participating and engaged in the Troop.
A Scout came to me asking for a Scoutmaster conference. OUTSTANDING!! Grab a couple of chairs and let’s have a talk I said. So how have you been, we haven’t seen you in a while. Well, I have been busy with other stuff says the Scout, and Scouts just kinda took the backseat, here’s my book, I need you to sign off a bunch of stuff.
Now, I am no drill sergeant when it comes to signing books, but there are some things that just need to be done. Discuss, Demonstrate, and Show. If that is what the requirement says, then that is what the Scout needs to do.
So, Tommy Tenderfoot, lets talk about these things that you have circled for me to sign off, I say to the young man. You mean you are not going to sign my book the Scouts replies looking agitated. No, that’s not what I am saying, I just want to make sure that you know what you need to know, this process is designed to progressively teach you the skills that you will need to be a good Scout and one day help teach other Scouts. I went on, You see, here is says to Demonstrate how a compass works and how to orient a map. Explain what map symbols mean. Did you bring a map and compass with you? I’m sorry, but for tonight’s meeting I didn’t bring that stuff. Frustrated, the Scout says No… but don’t you remember that hike that we did last year when we had the map out? I know how to use it, can’t you just sign it? No, I am afraid we need to sit down with the map and compass and work this out. It’s not me being hard, it’s the standard.
Long ago I learned that most things in life can be broken down to three things. Tasks, Conditions, and Standards.
There is a task to do like demonstrate how to orient a map and compass. The conditions are that you have a map and a compass and you use them to determine your orientation. And that standard is that once the task is complete, the map is oriented correctly. And so it goes with pretty much everything, at least in Scouting in the area of advancement. The Scout is given the task, the conditions are set, and there is one standard. The standard is always to do the task correctly. I always tell my Scouts that there is only one way to do things right and that is the right way. This can be applied to everything in Scouting and in life.
When the Scout handbook asks the Scout to Demonstrate, he needs to demonstrate. If it tells him to Show, then he shows, and if the handbooks instructs the Scout to discuss, well, that is exactly what it means. These are the Tasks, the Conditions, and the Standards. It is not rocket science, it’s just keeping the standards set. It is the right way.
So why do I feel the need to share this? Simple. I believe that we owe to our Scouts to make sure the standards are kept. We owe it to the Eagle Scouts and Scoutmasters that came before us. We always hear about “the good old days” You know, how tough it was when we did it… well, it wasn’t that tough… there are standards that were upheld. And we need to keep those standards. It’s simple, it’s not rocket science.
So when the book tells you to do something… just do it, it’s the right way. It’s the standard.
When a Scout needs a conference, give it to him. Don’t be hard, just follow the task, conditions, and standard. The Scout will benefit and so will the troop. It is fair and consistent and the way Scouting has always done it, why? Because it is the right way.
Demonstrate the standard. Show the standard. And Discuss the standard. It’s the right way.
Have a Great Scouting Day!