Month: September 2010

Let them Lead!

Do you want to have fun as a Scoutmaster?
Here is a passage from the 1953 Scoutmaster Handbook that my be of help.  The beauty of this is that from 1953 to today..  This has not changed, except in the minds of some overbearing Scoutmasters.
“Again and again we come back to the important point that you can’t expect a gang of boys to build a good Patrol without a boy leader who has been trained to lead.  And, as Baden Powell says, ‘To get the best results you must give the leader real free handed responsibility.  If you only give partial responsibility, you will only get partial results’.
Let the Patrol leaders take over in practically everything.  Let them work out their own problems, with the boys in their Patrols.  Interfere as little as possible- but always be there to give guidance when they ask for it.  Mistakes are bound to be made- therefore, be ready in a friendly spirit to urge the boy leader and his gang to try again.
Train ’em, Trust’em, and let’em lead!  That is the formula for success in using Patrol Leaders and for building strong Patrols.”
I guess I could end this blog post right there, but let me add this.  Training your youth leaders is the key here.  When do you train them?  All the time, but it starts on day one.  Patrol Leaders get the advantage of a little OJT as well as formal training.  There is no substitute for good practical hands on leading though, complete with plenty of mistakes.
I have talked before about the importance of learning from mistakes, take the time each meeting, after each event, and during different phases of a camp out to find those learning/teaching  moments.  Coach the leaders through a round of Start, Stop, and Continue and allow them to see with a critical eye the mistakes and success’s they have made.
Keep in mind that a burnt meal, a missed trail crossing, or rocky night sleep will only strengthen skills and confidence in the long run.
Scoutmasters… don’t hover, get out of their way and let them lead.
I love the saying from the handbook –
Train’em, Trust’em, and let’em lead!
Have confidence in your training of the leader, trust that they will do the right thing, and watch the growth.
If you want to have fun as Scoutmaster!… Well there’s the answer.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Sketch by Baden Powell
Quote from the Handbook for Scoutmasters, Boy Scouts of America, Fourth Edition, Seventh Printing (1953)

Training- get more!

About this time of the year we hear a lot about training and getting all of the adults of the unit trained, at the same time most units are training the Youth leadership.  I think this is interesting in that often times the training that an adult takes really does not set them up for a great training experience for the youth.
Here is what I what I am trying to say, simply put, youth training is about developing confidence in the youth leader to execute the annual plan.  To help the Scout learn communication skills, problem solving, and develop an attitude of servant leadership.
The adult training continuum on the other hand teaches the basics of Scouting, where we came from, what a PLC is, what the methods are, and what our role is in achieving the aims of Scouting.  But it does not teach us how to deal with young men, how to counsel, how to coach, and how to mentor them through the leadership process.
I had the opportunity to attend the Trainers EDGE training last year.  What I consider, beyond Wood Badge, the best training I have been through in Scouting regarding working with youth.  The reason I say that is the Trainers EDGE gets into the nuts and bolts of teaching, coaching, and mentoring our Scouting, especially those that you are working with in leadership roles.  The other thing I like about the Trainers EDGE is that it mirrors both Wood Badge course for adults and the NYLT and NAYLES programs for the youth.
In the Trainers EDGE you get the practical exercise of moving through the different modes of both learning and teaching.  This is important when working with your youth leaders.  When you have a better understanding of how they learn and how different teaching styles get to the young men, then they are more confident in their skills and the youth leaders have less and less frustration when it comes to working with their patrols.
I had a discussion with a Scoutmaster during the summer about this and his concern was that younger Scouts would not be able to handle the responsibility or even have the aptitude to lead other Scouts.  I contend that every Scout has the aptitude.  They all have varying degrees of or levels of skill, but all can be taught.  In so far as responsibility, well that they develop and it is a heck of a lot easier to do with a patrol of friends than in a class room or other social setting.
What this Scoutmaster was really telling me was that he was not confident in how to train youth leaders, and that is understandable.  His understanding of what he signed up for as a Scoutmaster was to go camping and teach knots tying and the like.  That is where many of us start, but soon the job of the Scoutmaster becomes much more than just knots and pitching tents… and that is where training comes in.  But the BSA training is not enough, you as a Scoutmaster or anyone that works with youth need to go the extra mile, take additional training, seek out those that can develop your skills and prepare you to work with the Scouts.
Whether it is additional training for outdoor skills like CPR, Climbing, or Whitewater rafting, or training on leadership you owe it to the Scouts of your unit to go above and beyond the Boy Scouts of America’s training continuum.
Wood Badge is a great place to start, then start looking around.  Local outfitters typically have classes on outdoor skills and outdoor leadership.  The National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) has a great catalog of training available.  REI also has great opportunities in their Outdoor School.  And there are many leadership development courses out there.  The Disney Institute is a great resourse for leadership and management.  I had the opportunity to attend the Disney Institutes leadership excellence course a few years ago, a real fine program that I am postitve has helped me as a coach, mentor, and teacher of Scouts.
Look locally, you will find great opportunities for you to improve yourself and in doing so, you will improve the unit you work with.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

The power of the internet- Thanks a hundred and six thousand

Now I am no Al Gore and certainly not as popular as Adam Carolla, in that I did not invent the internet and I don’t get Thousands of downloads a day but what a handful of us have done is tapped into this internet fad and turned it into something positive in the Scouting community.
I started Blogging on the 18th of July of 2007.  The Podcast went live on March 3rd, 2008 and the rest they say is History in the making.. I suppose.  I mean, its not about numbers and pats on the back, its about helping deliver the promise of Scouting and sharing this great organization that I love so very much.  The fact of the matter is that it does reach out and touch folks.
I can not tell you how much email I get about the blog and podcast and for the most part it is all great stuff.
I rarely check numbers and oh and ah over how well the blog and podcast are doing, the truth of the matter is that I am always afraid I am going to see real bad numbers.  Tonight I was messing around and checked out the numbers from my feedburner account.  Now this won’t count number from iTunes (I think), but it really doesn’t matter.  106,009 downloads of the SMM podcast as of yesterday!  Wow.. I am amazed.  I would love to be able to pull those numbers monthly, but I will leave that up to Adam Carolla!
We are reaching out and making a difference in Scouting.. and that is all the pat on the back I need.  It will surely keep me doing this long into the future.
Thanks Al, for inventing the internet and thank you all for listening and reading the blog!  I really appreciate it!

Have a Great Scouting Day!