One of the main functions of the Scoutmaster is to train the Junior Leaders, in particular, the Senior Patrol Leader. I take this responsibility serious and am in a constant mode of looking for opportunities to train the Scouts to be better leaders.
Most of the training is informal and as we find ourselves in opportune times where a lesson has presented itself. What I have found is that, first, our Scouts really don’t know what they don’t know, and second, they don’t look for opportunities to learn and train others.
Now that is a pretty lofty statement, let me explain what I mean.. here is the training opportunity.
Teen age boys typically look for the easy way out. They find the path of least resistance, which in turn puts them in challenging leadership roles. They typically want to just get along and resist confrontation when it comes to being a leader.
Whether it is because the Scout lacks confidence or leadership skills they find themselves in situations that often times leave them feeling unsuccessful. This is where a good tool box full of good leadership tools comes in.
I had a discussion the other night with a Patrol leader. He feels like no one really wants to listen to him. So, asking a few leading questions we took a look at his leadership style and gave him tools to make it better.
First, the leader needs to understand who he is leading and why he is leading. Is it a specific task that needs to be accomplished or just general leadership within the confines of a Patrol? The leader needs to look for opportunities to be “the man”. Here is what I mean by that… Leaders are not Bosses.. but leaders are the “go to” guys that people want to follow. The leader become “the Man” when he can display in his leadership the 4 “C”s.
Courage, Candor, Competence, and Compassion.
Courage. It takes Courage to be a leader, especially a leader of Scouts. You will not always make popular decisions and you may be put in situations that pit you one against another. The Leader with Courage will always do what is right and the right thing for the good of his Patrol, or Troop.
Candor. Tell it like it is. Tell the Truth and never shy away from the truth. If a member of the Patrol is acting in the wrong way or not doing a skill correctly, don’t be afraid to hurt their feelings, tell the truth. We as leaders need to worry less about feeling and focus more on actions. Actions or the way we act and do things are far more important than feelings. A leader that demonstrates candor is respected and shows his good character.
Competence. No one wants to follow a leader that does not know what the heck they are doing. Following a lost leader gets the whole group lost. To build competence the leader must keep learning and testing themselves. Sharpening skills and looking inward at their decision-making. Constantly working to fill the tool box.
And Compassion. We lead people and manage equipment. Being that leader that cares about those that they lead grows confidence in the follower. When we genuinely care about making those around us better, they see it and start to build a better relationship within the team. When we care about teaching them and showing them the right way to do anything, we make them better. When we care enough to model expected behavior, those that we lead will follow and show that behavior back to us.
Taking the four “C”s and putting them to use will make the leader better and keep him focused.
The four “C”s also give the leader a simple set of standards so he can focus on what is important in his Patrol. My Patrol leader did not think that his patrol listened to him. So I asked the simple questions; What are you saying and How are you saying it? Do you come at your Patrol competent and compassionate? We discussed a missed opportunity that he had over the weekend camp out. A simple task of cooking a meal could have been a million dollar lesson to his patrol in skill and fun. That patrol was cooking venison steaks. The missed opportunity was how they cooked them. A little bit of prior planning on the Patrol leaders part could have made him “The Man”.
Cooking steaks over an open fire would have made a bigger bang within the patrol, rather, they cooked on a frying pan and used up lots of cooking utensils and time. The Patrol leader missed the opportunity to get his younger Scouts involved in the process and about 10 minutes into the ordeal of cooking, he lost them.
It was a great opportunity that was lost because he took the path of least resistance.
“The Good Idea Fairy”
I have listened in on many Patrol meetings. Most Patrol meetings end in frustration when members of the Patrol do not feel that they are being listened to. Sometimes the Patrol Leader needs to let the Good Idea Fairy be heard. Jotting down an idea or two and seeing how they can be worked into the plan for the next event. Maybe cooking over the open fire came up, but was dismissed by the leader. When the leader lets those ideas happen they get buy in from those that they lead.
Always look for that Teaching Opportunity. They are always there and we as Scoutmasters need to be on top of it. Allow the situation to run its course and then sit down with the Patrol Leader or other leaders and ask those leading questions that get them thinking beyond the path of least resistance.
Scouts are looking for that challenge and they want to be challenges. They just don’t know what they don’t know and you know… sometimes they are afraid that we are going to say no to them or shut down their great ideas. Go with it. We need to use those four “C”s also.
If it is not unsafe, unethical, or not outside of the Scouting program.. say Yes and let them find that learning opportunity. You will be the man when you keep learning and growing in your leadership also.
Almost everything we do in Scouting will come with a teaching opportunity. Find it and share it.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Posts Tagged With: leadership
One of the main functions of the Scoutmaster is to train the Junior Leaders, in particular, the Senior Patrol Leader. I take this responsibility serious and am in a constant mode of looking for opportunities to train the Scouts to be better leaders.
I know that the blog, once again, has taken a back seat to this crazy thing called life. I suppose an apology would sound nice, but hey, we all have lives I assume.
This week has been a real moving one for me and I want to share it. Once we get through this first part, the rest is going to make sense in the context of this blog and my Scouting world.
On Tuesday, my wife and I participated in what is called “Challenge Day” at our High School. Our youngest son participated last year and it really made a difference in his life. So much so that he asked to be on the Challenge Crew staff for this year. He was accepted and has been on the Challenge crew for the high school this year.
At our high school, they offer the Challenge day to the Junior class. Now there is an “opt out” for those students that do not want to participate, but for those that do take the day and participate it is an eye opening, life changing event. Not just an impact on the lives of the participant, but, if it is received by the participant, it will impact the whole school and community.
Challenge is a program that asks the participant to open their eyes and their heart and see how behavior effects people. Name calling, neglect,, bullying, race, gender, all of that come to play in how we treat one another. OK Jerry, we all know that… No.. No we don’t. We hear it, we say it, but we don’t live it. We assume that we treat people with respect and dignity, but we really don’t. Take a look in the mirror and ask yourself… honestly am I? I suppose the bottom line is that we all can do better.
I was an adult leader for a small group “family”. When I say adult leader.. I really mean adult participant. We went through everything with the students. In my group we had 3 males and 2 females (myself included with the group). I got to hear their story and the stories of many of the kids in the room, there were about 150. My heart broke when I listened to some of the kids open up and share the pain and hurt they feel every day.
Being abandoned by their parents, abuse, neglect, and dealing with families struggling with addiction.
Towards the end of the day there was an activity called “Crossing the Line”. Two long stripes of tape were placed on the floor and the entire room stood on one side of the tape. As a category was called out, if it applied to you, you crossed the line and turned and faced the rest of the participants. The idea was to demonstrate that no one is alone, and pain and hurt is not unique to you… we all feel it and the impact is great.
“Have you lost a loved one to a violent act?”
“Have you ever been a victim of a violent act?”
“Have you lost a loved one to cancer or another illness?”
“Have you been effected by addiction?”
The list went on and on… and large groups of kids and adults crossed the line and returned… many crossing several times.
At the end the facilitator asked that everyone seriously think about the next category and then she said “If you have been allowed to be a child…cross the line”.
My heart sank as I looked around at all of the kids standing that did not move. Better than half of the room could not cross the line.
The say ended with healing and affirmations that this class would make a difference. The buck stops here. As they left the room, they made a commitment to make a change, not only in their School, but in their community… and it starts with how we look and treat people.
So what does all of this mean? There is way to much pain in our communities. We need to make a difference.
Baden Powell called for us to be a movement of peace. Are we? Does a patch on our uniform make us agents of that peace?
I am blessed,
I have a great family. I have fantastic loving kids. I grew up in a house with both parents that still to this day love me. My kids have never had need and have always been loved. We are a family of huggers,. My life is good.
So what? Is a blog going to make a difference? Nope, I am just sharing.. what you do with it is up to you.
I think it is time that we all reevaluate what we are really doing to be messengers of peace. I would suggest that we forget about global problems and focus on what is right outside of your front door. If we all do that then the global issue will right itself. Our Government can’t get it’s own house in order.. I don’t want it screwing up mine. WE need to make a difference. WE… US…
We start by adding this as part of our Junior Leader training. We adults start by living the Scout Oath and Law.. Daily. We reinforce our values in everything we do in Scouting and we invite all young people to join our adventure.
There is a big push to get leaders trained. We need to train them right. We need to make sure that all of the methods are being used in Scouting. It is through those methods that we will achieve our goals or aims… not to crank out Eagle Scouts.. but to have good young men that are great citizens and everything that the word citizen means. Men of Character that are fit.
I looked at the room on Tuesday and saw a lack of all of that somewhere along the line. Crapping parents, teachers that looked the other way, friends that are afraid to be friends. Scouting is designed to change that… but we don’t. It’s easier just to camp and call it good. We need to take the time and teach our boys to be men.
So… here we are. What is the blog going to do?
Leadership posts that direct that sort of change.
Gear reviews that encourage adventure.
Tips and techniques to make Scouting better… as I see it.
I have been away a lot from the blog recently. I have been freeing up parts of my life that did not really matter. The blog really matters to me and I think that it helps.
I am blessed to have a wonderful wife and family and I am blessed to have great readers of this blog.
Thanks so very much.
Think about the tag line.. “Have a Great Scouting Day” What does that mean and why do I close with that? A Scouting day is one in which we live the Scout Oath and Law. One that we are prepared and looking for the opportunity to “Help other people” It is a promise that we make daily to not just be in Scouting but allow Scouting to be in us. It’s more than Monday night meetings, it is how we live.
Think about that for a moment and see where you are.
You can learn more about Challenge day at www.challengeday.org Continue reading
Well, it has been a long time since our last post.. I’ll get you caught up real quick and then move on to the subject for this post.. Resetting…
As you know if you have been following the blog for some time, my youngest son is a great football player. The month of June was very busy for us as each weekend took us to a different college for visits or camps. It was a long month and we spent lots of time on the road hitting 4 states and more than an hand full of schools. Football season kicks off this Friday and it will be fun to see him give it his best in his senior year. I am sure there will be more on that subject as the season progresses.
July was a busy one for the troop. We went North to summer camp and had a spectacular time. Before we knew it.. it was August and time to get ready for the coming year in Scouting.
So here we are… back in the saddle and ready for another great year. This year wil mark our Troops 10th year and my 10th year as a Scoutmaster. I am excited. It is also a year of transition in our troop. Over the last few months we has been seeing the natural attrition of leaders.
Two of the Assistant Scoutmasters have transitioned to leadership in the Venture Crew while I will be losing one of the Assistants due to the Non Discrimination policy. What does this mean for me and the Troop… I am getting new Assistants. I went to the Troop committee and asked them to support our search for three new Assistant Scoutmasters, and the search begins.
So what is it that we look for in an Assistant Scoutmaster? Well, here are some of my thoughts on the issue.
First. The leader needs to be able to work with kids. They need to be friendly and approachable and willing to exercise patience when watching the Patrol method in action.
Second. They MUST buy into the Patrol method and Youth Leadership. If they don’t accept that then they can not be an Assistant Scoutmaster in our Troop. This is key in developing leaders and having a Troop that works the way Scouting is designed to work.
Third. They MUST be trained. They need to go to all the required training by the BSA. They need to make a commitment to the boys of the troop that they are willing to put in the time to help them be better. Training is one way they do that.
Fourth. TIme. They need to commit to at least 6 of the 11 camp outs and be available on Monday nights. A lack of commitment here and they can not be effective ASMs. I don’t need Dads… I need help teaching, coaching, training, and mentoring young men.
That is the basic criteria that I have initially come up with in our search So far I have one that has stepped up and will be a great fit.
I am excited for this phase of transition in our Troop. Fresh eyes, ideas, and attitudes that will make our troop so much stronger and bring more fun for the next 10 years.
Thanks for hanging in there over the summer and being patient with the blog.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
There are many styles of leadership. There are those that insist that leaders must lead from the front. There are is the camp that won’t have those they lead do anything that they would not themselves do. There are screamers, directors, instructors, and those that won’t make a decision without consent and debate. No matter which style you find in those that lead your unit it is important to teach fundamental leadership skills. We are assisted with the EDGE Method in Scouting. I call it Pushing and Pulling. In my many years of leadership in both the military and Scouting I know a few things for certain. We find ourselves tailoring our leadership style based on those that we lead.
Sometimes we have to [figuratively]get a rope and tie it around the waist of the led and pull them along. That lends itself to guiding and being an example. When we pull from the front we show those we lead what we expect, generate motivation, and encourage the follower whole maintaining control, discipline, and getting the task accomplished.
While on the other hand sometimes we have to push. We need to get behind those we lead and push them along. Providing motivation and extra encouragement along the way. We find this in those that have trouble self-starting and finding motivation enough to do it on their own. Pushing lends itself to the Explaining and Demonstrating part of the EDGE method. The leader takes a “Hands on” approach with those he leads and is very visible in his leadership. The leader is digging in and leading from within the unit. Not out front and not bringing up the rear. The leader is right in and among the patrol.
This leadership takes the right skills and the ability to maintain balance with each member of the patrol. Some members may not need the direct hands on direction, while others may need a lot of it. When we push we need the help of other members of the patrol to encourage those that need the help.
There are a lot of different leadership styles and each of us finds that style that best suites our personality and that of those that we lead.
Whether we are pushing or pulling, we need to remember that leaders are leaders not boss’s. We don’t have dictators and we remain focused on accomplishing the task at hand.
It is our job as Scoutmasters to teach, coach, train, and mentor our Scouts and encourage them to find their style of leadership. They need to be given the ability to push and pull and develop the EDGE method in their leadership. That will lead them to success.
I appreciate your comments.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Ok.. So to get back to the Future.. we need to focus on those basics that I referred to in the last post. I am going to, in the next few post expand on what I think we need to focus on. This is the world according to Jerry… and Baden Powell..
We start where it all starts and ends.. the Patrol.
The Patrol method is not just something we do to group boys together. It is the method that ties the Troop together, it is the basis for teaching and coaching the three elements of Citizenship, Character, and Fitness that are the primary goals of the Scouting program in achieving our Mission.
Again, I turn to Aides to Scoutmastership and see what Baden Powell has to say about the Patrol method.
The Patrol System is the one essential feature in which Scout training differs from that of all other organizations, and where the System is properly applied, it is absolutely bound to bring success. It cannot help itself!
That is correct, if we do not use the patrol method we can not and will not be successful in our mission. While other clubs sort their youth in age groups, gender groups, or interest groups, Scouting creates groups that will self govern, learn decision making, establish friendships, and challenge one another and the Patrols around them.
An invaluable step in character training is to put responsibility on to the individual. This is immediately gained in appointing a Patrol Leader to responsible command of his Patrol. It is up to him to take hold of and to develop the qualities of each boy in his Patrol. It sounds a big order, but in practice it works.
There always seems to be resistance in this area. Some adults either have no faith in the boy, or find it easier just to do it themselves. Which one develops the boy? Give a Scout responsibility and training and he will rise to it. I think you will be surprised when you see even a first year Scout lead to his level. You will see his character develop as he is placed in situations that will test his strength of character. He will have to choose right over popular, he will have to choose discipline over chaos. He will have to take charge and responsibility and understand that his needs are secondary to those of the Scouts he leads. He is first up and last down. He ensures that meals are prepared and done correctly. He develops communication techniques that allow him to effectively represent his patrol at the Patrol leaders council and get the information back to his patrol so they can be full participants in the program. He is the cheerleader of the patrol, he is the compass that keeps the patrol heading in the right direction. The Patrol leader is the motivator and goal setter. At the end of his term, he will have taken a step towards being a better leader in his School, home, and among friends, not to mention in his troop.
The best progress is made in those Troops where power and responsibility are really put into the hands of the Patrol Leaders. This is the Secret of success in Scout Training.
Amen BP.. Take away the Patrol Method and you essentially do not have a Boy Scout Troop.
The Patrol Method is supported by the Patrol Leaders Council. The PLC is the heartbeat of the Boy Scout troop. Without an effective BOY LED Patrol Leaders Council, you do not have a Boy Scout Troop. You have an adult led club.
The Patrol Leaders Council makes the decisions for the troop. They plan the troops activities and meetings and by and large the training that will occur for first year Scouts and skills that are required for specific activities. The Patrol Leaders Council is led by the Senior Patrol leader. He is trained and seeks advice from the Scoutmaster.
The Scoutmaster’s primary job is to train that Senior Patrol leader. Then he can watch as the SPL in turns trains and guides using the EDGE method those Patrol leaders. A great opportunity for leadership development and training is the use of Troop guides. These Scouts are part of the Patrol leaders council and assist the Patrols were needed, especially those younger Scout patrols.
The Patrol Leaders Council, I can not stress enough must be allowed to function, even when it’s ugly… the Scouts that make up the council need to be allowed to make mistakes, they need to be allowed to make a decision and then fully realize the consequence of the decision. Adult leadership should stand back and coach when needed not allowing safety to be compromised or the general welfare of the Troop. Using the assessment tools that are part of Junior leader training, or the new National Youth Leadership Training program. The Patrol leaders council can evaluate themselves and learn from success and failure.
This is the learning ground for Patrol leaders and will assist them is developing sound leadership, as rough as it looks sometimes.
The bottom line. Back to basics.. back to the future starts with the Patrol Method. Period.
As the founder taught us; “”The patrol system is not one method in which Scouting for boys can be carried on. It is the only method.”
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Last night our Troop held it’s Patrol leaders council meeting. The meeting was unlike most of the PLC meetings in that this meeting was kind of a reflective meeting as our troop is going through, like most troops go through in the course of time, some transition.
We have gone through growth spurts, and seen Scouts come and go. For a time, we had more older boys then young ones, then we had more young guys than old guys, now our middle is flush and our older guys are few and far between.
The Senior patrol leader is a real great kid. He loves the Troop and wants it to be the very best. Last night the discussion in the PLC meeting was focused on what the middle was going to do to run the troop. In short. It’s their troop now.. what do they want to do with it?
For some of the guys this is a hard question. Some of the guys would rather just follow and not take on any leadership, while others are willing to step up. Unfortunately, the followers out number the leaders three-fold.
While at the camp out this weekend, I shared with some of the leaders that it was time for them all to step up and take over.
There are older Scouts that feel that the troop is boring… that there is no reason to come to meetings… that Scouting is becoming a waste of time. Well, maybe… but it’s because they don’t want to be a part of the solution. They would rather just max the minimum, get their Eagle and go about their lives. Good for them, but it does nothing to help the Troop. That’s really too bad, they could really do great things if they wanted to. But as we discussed last night, if that is what they want, that is what they will get. The younger guys are officially taking over the Troop as of last night. And I am so proud of them. I think they are about to take this Troop in a direction that will be fun and adventurous. They are dedicated and motivated and most of all willing to put the effort into taking care of their Troop.
This weekends camp out forced some of the Scouts to do some reflection on who they are and what they want out of Scouting. It was great to see them take it serious and think about what they wanted success to look like.
I suppose the good thing about having older Scouts that don’t want to make a difference is that they are showing the young guys what not to do. Yeah, I guess I am spinning that a bit. We typically want our older Scouts to set an example of the right way to do things, but sometimes we learn from the lack of action or failure of others.
I am not happy about the attitudes of the older guys that are not making a difference in a program that I think gave them a lot. But, it is what it is.
The silver lining is the results are going to be great in the actions of the younger fellows of the Troop.
I am looking forward to seeing them kick into gear here and get things moving.
More later on this. Stand by for great things!
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Bare with me while I try to collect my thoughts and try to share them in a coherent way…
We just wrapped up the first session of Wood Badge course W1-492-13 and as is the case in or of the Wood Badge experience, there are plenty of opportunities to do some reflection and looking inward at the person that you are.
Learning leadership is just part of the Wood Badge experience and can’t really be placed into action until the leader has made internal commitments to be a better person. Thank goodness we in Scouting have this wonderful set of values that we find in the Scout Law. Assessment tools that are learned and practiced in our quest to find knowledge and self-realization of our strengths and weakness’.
What I am saying is that once again, I have had an opportunity to reflect and take that critical look inside. Couple that with the rest of the fun of Wood Badge and we are on that emotional roller coaster that comes with the experience.
What I am always amazed about is the people. The 53 Scouters that paid, took time off, drove out to the coast, and make the choice to attend Wood Badge are dedicated Scouters in their respective programs. They are enthusiastic about learning how to be better Scouters, husbands and wives, Fathers, Mothers, and employees or employers. The Wood Badge program makes all of those aspects of our lives better.
The amazing part is the dedication that they demonstrate. They are great people.
Last night when I got home the news was filled with the Boston Marathon bombing. Thank God that the damage was relatively small. I am not going to rant and rave about the scum bags that would do something like this. You all know how I feel. Here is what I saw when watching the never-ending coverage. The reactions of the people. You see as the first bomb exploded we saw three groups of people. The first group was those that were injured. The second group was those that ran away from the danger. And the third group were the people who ran to the explosion. What makes people do this?
I saw this over and over again in my Southwest Asian vacation in Iraq. When the shots starts soldiers face the fire and move toward the danger. Yesterday, we saw runners, members of the National Guard, First responders, all heading to the danger. They selflessly give, forgoing their own safety and comfort. They put other people ahead of themselves. They are living the values that we promise in the Oath and Law.
I am proud of these people and thank them.
Now this is going to sound like a stretch… but it is how I feel, so please bare with me here.
I have served on two Wood Badge course’s now as a staff member. The number one thing that I have learned on those two staff’s is that there are terrific people who care so much about Scouting and Scouts that they give and give and yes.. run to the sound of the drum. They are like the first responder that runs to danger. They are dedicated and motivated to help. They take the Oath and Law and apply it in their daily lives and it makes a difference.
Our Course Director is a Scouter that I have looked up to for many years. He has a love for Scouting that shows in everything he does. His passion is contagious. On Thursday night at our staff dinner, he shared something with us just hours before the participants arrived. He shared with us that it had been a long time since he served as a Scoutmaster in a unit. For many years now he has been serving at the District and Council level primarily in a training capacity. We all agree that where the runner meets the road is at the unit level where Scouters and Scouts interact and we teach, train, coach and mentor our youth to achieve the mission of the Boy Scouts of America. John, our Course Director shared this with us. While he has not served at the unit level in a long time do the math on the impact that we make as Staffers at Wood badge. 53 participants, mostly from Packs, Troops, and Crews will be learning from us. By myself I can only impact say 40 boys that are in my unit. Over 10 years or so, I may have a direct impact on a couple hundred Scouts. Imagine though the impact of a Wood Badge staffer. 53 participants will go back to their units and apply what we teach them. Lets go low and say that each of those 53 have 25 Scouts in their unit. That is about average. Over the next 10 years this one Wood Badge class will impact thousands of Scouts. That is far more reaching than I can do myself. Over the next few years, these Scouters will run toward the target… they will run toward the Scouts that need help, coaching, and mentoring. They will put hours upon hours into making Scouting and Scouts better. They will dedicate time, money, energy, and love to our program. This makes me proud to a part of it.
John inspired me to give my best when it was my turn to present course material, lead a song, and participate in a skit. He made me want to give so that others would follow my lead. John runs to the help needed as a trainer. Most of all, he made Scouting better by leading us.
A lot is going on in our world. We need Scouting and we need Scout leaders that run to the boys!
Thank you all that do what you do to make our world just that much better.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
We all get to a point when we hit the wall, reach the point of diminishing return, stop having fun. Teen age boys seem to hit that point way before adults and that my friends seems to be normal. So know what we know, how do we deliver that promise without loosing our cool, making Scouting painful, and zapping the fun out of it.
I have been giving this subject a lot of thought lately and it pretty much came to a head for me the other night at our Troop meeting when I had a little chat with a Scout and his Dad. This Scout is a good kid, he is growing up and seeing where he can push and pull on the limits with his parents, school, etc… that to seems to be pretty normal, I mean, all kids test the waters. They see were they can get away with things and what they will be allowed to do and not do. But that is not really here nor there in the conversation other than to say, this young man is testing where he can and Scouting is becoming a push and pull point between his Dad and himself.
I remember when this young man entered our Troop, he was gung ho about Scouting and dove right in. He quickly worked his way through rank and never missed a good Scouting opportunity. Went to the National Jamboree and Philmont and has by and large been a good Scout. But now he has a driver’s licence, a girl friend, and Scouting is not cool among the crowd he is hanging with at School. Again, normal… right?
Like I said, this all has come to a head this week, the discussion about how we maintain a good balance for our Scouts without compromising the program. How do we keep older Scouts engaged and how do we keep it fun and adventurous for them while we compete with the rest of their worlds? How is that we keep them from reaching that point of diminishing return and get them to continue to make a contribution to the Troop? How do we assist them in staying active as a member and leader in the troop?
Well, I may not have the answers, but I am willing to try to at least offer solutions.
I am, as you know, a big believer in the Patrol method. I think that the Patrols are a big piece of the puzzle here. Allowing the Scouts to maintain the Patrols of guys that they want to be with, share common interests and likes and dislikes. Maybe if they stay together, they will rally around each other. To much moving around and the Scouts start to lose interest in going through the stages of team development and maintaining that high performance attitude.
So let them pick and keep their Patrols and Patrol mates. When they invite a friend, let that friend be in their Patrol.
Leadership is always an issue also. We expect our older Scouts to be leaders. And I agree, but to what end? When they start to hit the wall, they are not affect leaders, they tend to go through the motions and develop bad attitudes. If they don’t want to lead, don’t make them. They will get their leadership time and I would much rather have a leader that wants to lead than one that is being forced. Leadership comes in many forms and maybe just their example can be enough till they are ready to step back into the spot light of Troop leadership.
Attendance. This one gets debated over and over again, and everyone has an opinion. By the way, I am interested in yours.. leave a comment. Here are just a few thoughts of mine regarding this issue. I am not a big proponent of forcing Scouts to be there. I want them to be there. I also understand that life for these kids (and adults) is busy. Sports, homework, vacations, friends, other clubs all pull at the Scouts and their families. Don’t let Scouting be the thing that becomes the bad guy. Make Scouting something they want to be at. I have said it before, Scouting may not be for every boy and as their world pulls at them it provides an opportunity for choices to be made. The more they understand the value of Scouting and the fun, the higher on the priority list it goes. Attendance at meetings, outings, and other unit functions needs to be the choice of the Scout and the family.
But Jerry, how do you determine what “active” means? Well, I always go back to what the Boy Scouts of America has determined as the standard. Here is how the BSA defines “Active”:
A Scout will be considered “active” in his unit if he is;
Registered in his unit (registration fees are current)
Not dismissed from his unit for disciplinary reasons
Engaged by his unit leadership on a regular basis (informed of unit activities through Scoutmaster conference or personal contact, etc.)
In communication with the unit leader on a quarterly basis.
(Units may not create their own definition of active; this is a national standard.)
So that’s it. That is active. I may or may not agree with it, and I am sure that there are some of you that feel that this standard is a bit chinsy.. but it is what it is. That is how the Boy Scouts of America define it and that is what we must comply with when determining the activity of our Scouts. That is the standard.
And so that is what I use as my guide. Now, during the Scoutmaster conference I make it a point to ask what the Scout is getting out of the program… typically, you get out of Scouting what you put into it. So once a Scout gets to that point where Girls, Gas, and Goofing off start taking a priority and troop meetings start to take a back seat, what is he getting out of it. Does he still camp with the Troop? Does he show up for service projects or courts of honor? That would make him active, right? I think it may. The Scout will let you know how he is doing in the program, but we all know that forcing the issue on a teen-aged young man will result in push back. And then you are back at square one. The fun will officially be zapped out of it.
So what now?
First, know your Scouts. What they like, dislike, and what makes them want to be there.
Second, use the Patrol method. Enough said about that.
Finally, be flexible. It’s only Scouting. There is much to be gained in our organization, but if you are not happy here, or not here at all, you won’t get anything out of it.
Don’t be a Troop dictator. Be as Baden-Powell said in Aides to Scoutmastership.. “To get a hold on boys, you must be their friend”.
Build trust in them and let them set their course for adventures in Scouting.
Hope that made any sense… Don’t zap the fun out of Scouting.
Thanks for hanging in there and reading the blog.
Have a Great Scouting day!
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!
It is the Scoutmasters obligation to work to achieve the Aims of Scouting… that’s pretty much it. To do that it should be every Scoutmasters goal to get every Scout to the rank of First Class not Eagle Scout.
If you take a look at the requirements to achieve the First Class rank you will note that its pretty much all about Character, Citizenship, and Fitness.
Through the working of these requirements the Scout will learn about the three aims of Scouting and coupled with the skills learned, the teamwork developed, and the fun of the program, the Scout will assist the Scoutmaster in attaining his goal.
Once the foundation has been laid in the working to First Class, the Scout then should be prepared to work toward Eagle Scout where he can explore his world while working merit badges. He can learn and demonstrate leadership, and he can develop a sense of service to his community. Putting it all together we will have produced a good young man.
So back to the First Class rank. When we do not put in the proper perspective and make it all about skills and a means to the end (Eagle Scout), we lose focus on what we are trying to accomplish in Scouting. We are not here to make Eagle Scouts, we are here to make good men. Good Citizens of Character that are fit, mentally, physically, and emotionally.
So, the next time you sit down with a Scout to chat during his Scoutmaster conference for Second Class.. take a look and see if that young man is getting it. If not, reinforce those ideas and share with him your goal.
This is a part of the promise that we make to our Scouts. The adventure comes when the rest is worked.
Have a Great Scouting Day!