Month: March 2010

A little Video from our last camp out

Hey there.. check out the Scoutmaster Minute Facebook page for a little video of my Troop and I camping out on the East Side of Mt. Hood.  We were looking for another snow camp out.. turned out to be dry and warm and no snow.  Oh well, still turned out to be a great camp out.. but they all are.
Enjoy the Video.
Little John Camp out

Have a Great Scouting Day!

The Sliding Scale of Perfection

Just take a look at any Norman Rockwell painting, Scout leaders with Square jaws sitting by a perfect fire, scouts praying under the dining fly and a Scoutmaster standing vigil over sleeping Scouts on a perfect star lit night.  Takes our breath away when we imagine what that time in Scouting was like.  But sit and chat awhile with one of our honored Scouting Alumni and he tells the story of a Scouting experience much like ours.
We all have an idea of what a perfect Scout or Scout unit should look like and as I grow more experienced in this game with a purpose what I have learned is that there is a sliding scale of perfection.
On that rare occasion when all of the stars are lined up as I stand over the dyeing embers of a fire that was once full of cheer and look around, giggles permeate the air from tents in the distance, I think that this is what Rockwell saw.  And then I am awakened by the sounds of Scouts burning their breakfast.  A Patrol leader struggles to get his patrol packed up and on the trail.  And new Scouts that are having trouble getting their sleeping bag back into that little bag it came in… where did Rockwell go?
You see there is a sliding scale of perfection and just like the saying that says that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.. so is perfection.  Perfection in Scouting is all about learning and improving from that which you learned.  It’s ok for a Scout to go home hungry because he burned his breakfast, he won’t starve, but he will learn.  It is ok for a Scout to get wet when it rains at night, he won’t shrivel and fade away.. but he will stake his tent out better next time and store his gear like he was taught.
Patrol leaders will become less frustrated when they learn to use the EDGE method and work as a team. They will develop leadership when they come to the understanding that they are not the boss.. but the leader.  The SPL will get better and better as soon as he realizes that he only has to worry about Patrol leaders and not do everything himself.
Perfection will come, it won’t look like Norman Rockwell painted it.. but on the sliding scale.. as long as they keep learning.. that’s perfect.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

painting “Growth of a Leader” by Norman Rockwell

Back to the Basics – DO

OK.. we know what we must BE, we know what we must KNOW and now it is time to DO
The Scoutmaster gives direction.. but understand this direction comes from many angles.  Unlike a conductor, the Scoutmaster is not standing in front directing the band, he is offering advise and using Guided Discovery to get the Scout thinking of the next move.  Direction as a good example of the Oath and Law and demonstrating Scout skills by example.. not doing it for the Scout.
The Scoutmaster sets the Scouts on the right path and is there for them, monitoring their progress to keep them heading in the direction they have set.
The Scoutmaster is a Coach.  Coaching the PLC and specifically the Senior Patrol Leader, so they can be successful.  Coaches do not score touchdowns, throw passes, or run the ball.. they stand on the side line and encourage, call a play now and again, and praise the team as they come to the bench…  So it is with the Scoutmaster, always encouraging, always on the side line for the Scouts.
The Scoutmaster supports the Scouts of his troop, providing opportunities and support always keeping in mind that it is the Scout that sets the direction and pace of his activity and advancement.  The Scoutmasters role is to be a resource and guide through the process… Many Scout leaders feel that support means doing for the boys what they should be doing for themselves.  Baden Powell was clear when he said, “Never do for a boy what the boy can do” Scouts learn by doing and in a supportive environment that provides opportunities for learning and success, the Scout will succeed.  By doing this the Scoutmaster empowers the Scout and they flourish.
And finally, the Scoutmaster MUST HAVE FUN.  Fun is contagious.  The more fun you have the more fun your troop will have.  I personally think there is more value in the fun factor than we recognize in Scouting.  Make fun your goal and encourage fun to be part of the PLC’s annual plan.  You do not have to over think fun.. you just have to do it.
And that is what a Scoutmaster must do!

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Back to the Basics – Know

In our last post we talked about what a Scoutmaster must BE.  An easy enough concept to grasp that a Scoutmaster must be an example of what right looks like, whether that is wearing the uniform correctly or pitching a tent, the Scoutmaster is not a Master of Scouts, rather a Master of Scouting and he demonstrates that by being an example of the Scout Oath and Law.

We now transition to the meat and potatoes of Scoutmastership.. What a Scoutmaster must KNOW.
The first thing that a Scoutmaster must know is that the Boys run this program.. not him.  Boy Scouting is for the Scouts, by the Scouts.  It is through the Scout led troop that they learn, grow and develop in citizenship, character, and fitness.  It is not always pretty, and that is where you are tested as a Scoutmaster.  In those not so pretty times you need to let the course run… see how the Scout react and make decisions.  Now when it comes to safety.. by all means step in, but don’t be so quick to throw in the towel.
The Scoutmaster needs to understand the Patrol Method.  More to the point, he needs to let the Patrol method work. According to founder Sir Robert Baden Powell, the Scout method works naturally and unconsciously: naturally in the way that it follows the natural impulses of a Scout, unconsciously in the way that the Scout is not aware of the education.  He said, and I agree that The patrol system is not one method in which Scouting for boys can be carried on. It is the only method.”
More on the Patrol method in a future post.
The Scoutmaster must know the skills to deliver the promise. Ok.. hold on.. what the heck is “the Promise”.  Well I am certain that if you polled a group of Scouters exiting Round table you would get a multitude of answers, but according the Boy Scout Handbook in the 90’s the promise looks like this:
SCOUTING promises you the great outdoors.  As a Scout, you can learn how to camp and hike without leaving a trace and how to take care of the land.  You’ll study wildlife up close and learn about nature all around you.  There are plenty of skills for you to master, and you can teach others what you have learned.  Everyong helping everyone else – that’s part of Scouting, too.
SCOUTING promises you friendship.  Members of the troop you join might be boys you already know, and you will meet many other Scouts along the way.  Some could become lifelong friends.
SCOUTING promises you opprotunities to work toward the Eagle Scout rank.  You will set positive goals for yourself and then follow clear routes to achieve them.
SCOUTING promises you tools to help you make the most of your family, your community,and your nation.  The good deeds you perform every day will improve the lives of those around you.  You will be prepared to help others in time of need.
SCOUTING promises you experiences and duites that will help you mature into a strong, wise adult.  The Scout Oath and the Scout Law can guide you as a Scout and throughout your life.
The 1965 Scoutmaster Handbook would tell you that Scouting is fun, Scouting is Adventure, and Scouting is comradeship!
So put all that together and you get the reason why boys join Scouts!! That is the promise that we need to deliver.
So what are those skills that are needed to deliver the Promise?  You start with knowing what the promise is and how your troop is delivering it.
Skills in providing adventurous activities, camping, hiking, scuba diving, climbing and a list to long to mention in one post.  Never short change the opportunities that are sought after by your PLC.
And that brings us to the final thing a Scoutmaster must know, and that is the resources available.  The best thing you can do for a PLC is to offer guidance on the opportunities available to them.  In Scouting the sky is the limit.. never limit them.
In a Scout led troop, they get to pick and choose their adventure, they get to pick and choose their friends (patrols), and they get to pick and choose how they are going to achieve the goals they set.
Through Guided Discovery you will help them find success.. and that is what you, the Scoutmaster must know.  It is not about you.. it is about them.  They keep coming back to find the promise of Scouting.  Give it to them.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Back to the Basics

Today I spent the better part of it assisting with New Scoutmaster training.  On the training team, it is my job to lead the discussion on the role of the Scoutmaster.  As we wrapped up today’s session, I thought it would be a good idea to discuss on the blog some of the basics of Scoutmastership.
Baden Powell, in his book, Aids to Scoutmastership warned us not to overcomplicate Scouting, he said that Scouting should be Simple, Boy led, and Fun.  And that basically sums it up.
But what of the modern day Scoutmaster?  I would love to say that things have not changed, but they have.
The basics have not though, the times, the uniforms, and the gear has changed, but Scoutmastership is the same.  It is still simple, it is supposed to be boy led, and it is fun.
So what it is that a Scoutmaster must BE, KNOW, and DO.
Over the next few posts we will discuss that answer.
Today we discuss what a Scoutmaster must BE.
The Scoutmaster, as in days gone by must be certain things, first of all he needs to be a Role Model.
I always share that I am a Scoutmaster all day, every day.  At the supermarket, at sporting events, and in Troop meetings, we Scoutmasters need to understand that we are role models.  We are to model good behavior, skills, and model the Scout Oath and Law in our daily lives.  Is this tough?  Heck yeah it’s tough.  But just when you think no one is watching.. they are.
The Scoutmaster must be a Friend to the boys.  This friendship breeds confidence, credibility, and trust.  You need to be able to communicate to the Scouts in a way that they can understand and meet them where they are in their development, being their friend is important.  They need not look to you as an authority, you are their Scoutmaster not their boss.  You are not their disciplinarian you are there to teach them the discipline of living the Scout Oath and Law.
Be careful, you are not their buddy.. but you are their friend, there is a difference.
And finally, the Scoutmaster must be a good example.  In particular in wearing the Scout uniform properly.  We are the standard bearer of the Scouting movement and the Scouts will do what we do and they will want to meet our expectations.  Wearing the uniform completely shows that it is an important part of Scouting and that we care about it as a method.  The uniform is a great part of Scouting, it is a fantastic equalizer and shows that we are part of a team.  Wear the uniform properly and set a good example for your Scouts to follow.
I am sure that you can come up with some other things that the Scoutmaster must BE, but keep in mind, we are trying to keep it simple.
Next time we will discuss what the Scoutmaster must Know.

Have a Great Scouting Day!