Politics… or just throwing pebbles in the pond

Recently Nick wrote a piece on his blog regarding politics and Scouting and how the two should never meet.  I agree, after all.. there is no such thing as values and moral thinking in the political arena, no offense if there are political types that follow the blog.

Around here, the term for general upset in a unit is that “politics” got in the way.  In saying that it is commonly known that folks got their own agenda into the program and it had a adverse effect on the unit.
I recently had a chat with a a great friend of mine.  Politics invaded his unit and there was a lot of “he said..  she said” going on.  Fair or unfair..  right or wrong.. there is no place for politics in Scouting.
Now I know that personalities conflict and every unit has that one person that seems to throw pebbles into the pond completely unaware of the tidal wave they are creating on the other side.  But there is still is no room for it.
So what’s the fix?  I suppose it would be easy to say, just blow it off, ignore it, or look the other way.  But the fact of the matter is that it exists in every unit to some degree.  It is how the leadership of the unit direct it and deal with it.
Lets say for example a Dad insists on getting in the business of the Patrols.  He won’t let the Patrol leader be the Patrol leader, undermines the boys decisions covertly and general disrupts the Patrol method.  As a Scoutmaster, I need to nip that in the bud.  First of all, if you have rules in place, or at least a standard way of executing the program, some of those issues will repair themselves.  But lets go with our “Bad Dad”.  He obviously does not have an understanding of the Boy Scout Methods and youth leadership.  A conversation with him may enlighten him and all is well, you may also learn from your discussion why is doing what he is doing.
Agenda’s are meant to be for committee meetings, and that is where they should stay.  If a parent has an agenda, lets say getting their son to the rank of Eagle before age 14, then a talk with that parent may be in order.  Again, it seems to come down to an understanding of the Boy Scout program.
It is a good idea to review methods and unit practices with the parents of your unit.  We do that during our recruiting events or open houses and troop visits.  Honesty is the best policy in my opinion.   Tell it like it is up front, then you can avoid politics down the road.
Back to my friend and his political problems.  I won’t get into specifics, because I don’t know them all, but suffice it to say, a parent has their feathers ruffled because of a misunderstanding of the Boy Scout program and it’s methods.  Parent wants “X” for his son, but son does not necessarily meet the expectation.  Parent will do what ever it takes to get son “X”, a small pebble in a big pond that is leaving a huge wave at the other end.
Just like nick says in his piece there is no room for politics in Scouting.  Whether that comes from within, or whether it is a bargaining chip or statement from outside.  
Unit leaders need to be aware of this and stop it before the wave hits.  It can destroy a good unit and here is the bottom line.
When it destroys the unit who is effected?
Is it Mom and Dad?  NO
Is it the District?  NO
Is it the Council?  NO
Is it the Scoutmaster?  NO
It is the Scout… and that is a crime.
So before politics plays a role in your unit, look at the reason we have meetings every week, look at the reason we go camping and teach skills.  It is for the Scouts and nothing else.  If you have an agenda..   Rethink it and see what you can do to help rather than throw pebbles.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

One comment

  1. I couldn't agree more!People who have their own agenda or play 'politics' within a Group / Troop / Pack (insert your own section here) forget one thing. The Group which they or their children belong to isn't theirs, it belongs to all the members past, present and future.My job title is Group Scout Leader and not Group Scout Dictator For Life! The Group is run by its Executive Committee and I am part of that, but although I run the Group on a day to day basis, it is the Executive that is responsible for the Group's overall running. This should ensure that I cannot run the Group to my own agenda, but I must do it the the rules of the Scout Association.Of course playing politics in the current climate isn't sensible! UK politicians are not held in the highest esteem at the moment due to their abuse of expenses claims (see the BBC website for examples).The Group is run for ALL its members and not just for individuals, Leaders or young people, wanting their own way. Not to do so is not to follow the themes, principles and spirit of Scouting.


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