Month: July 2011

Put me in Coach…

“Leaders aren’t born they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that’s the price we’ll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal” – Vince Lombardi

Every Coach I have ever met wants his team to win.  When I was a Flag Football coach, even though they technically did not keep score.. I wanted the kids on the team to win.. Winning feels good and winning typically means that you were the better team that day.  Better skills, better leadership, better coaching, better condition. 
When the whistle blows for the opening kick off.. the coach stands on the side line and watches as his team succeeds or fails.  As the players come and go from the side line to the playing field he offers up advise, he coaches them on a specific part of the game, and he encourages them to go out there and win.
My frustrated Dad from the previous post reads the blog as I have come to find out via an email.  Which is great, because as he reads the content, maybe he will gain a better understanding of what it is that we are trying to accomplish here in Scouting.  I have already responded to him, but as I thought about how to best explain what it is that we Scoutmasters do.. well the Football coach analogy just would not leave me alone.
A coach does not go out and make tackles.. he coaches on proper technique.  He never throws a touchdown pass.. but he teaches the Quarterback on proper release.  The coach has assistant coaches too.. and they teach and coach their specific parts of the team.  They encourage their players to get better, stronger, faster, and more skilled.  Well such is the role of the Scoutmaster and his assistants.  They develop leadership in the Scouts and encourage them to do their best.  They step in when needed, but rely on the players (Scouts) to make the play or complete the task.
Standing on the side lines.. or in the back of the meeting hall, the Scoutmaster can observe his Troop winning or learning.  We don’t really lose.  Every failure comes with a learning point or as I call it in our Troop, our take home point.
What the Scoutmaster does is provide opportunities.  He mentors the Senior Patrol leader to a position that he now can do it alone.  The Scoutmaster is never too far away and provides confidence in the young man that he can and will accomplish any task he sets his mind to.  This is a great lesson in life.
I love the coach analogy.  It fits well when you want a Scout to go out there and play the game with a purpose.
And as for the frustrated Dad.. he will get it.  I am sure of that.
And hey.. thanks to Larry for the great comment on the last post.  Right on!

“If it doesn’t matter who wins or loses, then why do they keep score?” – Vince Lombardi

Have a Great Scouting Day!

The Leading Question?

The other night at our Troop meeting I was approached by a frustrated parent.  He asked why I continuously gives the boys the “run around”.  I asked him what he meant, even though I kind of knew where he was going.  He told me he has been sitting back watching over the last few weeks as Scouts come to me with questions.  He wanted to know why I never just answer the questions that the Scouts have.  I asked him to give me an example.  He stated that a young Scout came to me with a question about meals last week, he wanted to know how many they needed to plan for.  Apparently my answer to the Scout was, “Have you talked to your Patrol leader about meal planning for the next camp out?”  The frustrated Dad wanted to know why I didn’t just tell him that he needed to plan 4 meals.
He went on to ask why I didn’t answer another Scouts question when I was asked about an activity.  Again, he says “you pawned it off on the Patrol Leader”.
The straw that broke the camels back however came when a Scout came to you, he said, asking if I could show him how to tie a certain knot.  Frustrated Dad threw his arms up when again I called the Patrol leader over and asked him to show the young Scout how to tie the knot.
“What is it that you do?” he asked.  I teach leadership I replied.
“How is this teaching leadership?” he asked.  Well, its like this.  If I just answer the question, then why do we need Patrol leaders?  If we don’t have Patrol leaders, how does the Scout learn to lead?
When we are camping for example, there are countless opportunities to use leading questions to teach leadership, skills, and camp craft.  Questions that get the Scout to think and act. 
On our last camp out, the Senior Patrol Leader gave direction to the Patrol to camp in a certain area.  One Patrol chose to camp on the slope of the hill on little plateau’s created on a trail.  This was fine as it practiced good leave no trace, but I had a few questions for the Patrol leader regarding placement of a few tents.  I did not tell the PL to move the tents, but did take the opportunity to talk about terrain and ask him what he thinks might happen if it started raining.  We talked about it for a minute and he came up with a solution.  He was hell-bent on not moving the tents.. so they dragged some downed logs over and placed them in front of the tents across the trail creating a break or diverter should it start raining.  He did tell me that they had made sure that the doors of the tent were facing down hill and away from the possible flow of water.
It rained like cats and dogs on Friday night.. and sure enough, their plan of pulling logs over the trail worked, not a single wet sleeping bag. 
It is the leading question that teaches.  Allowing the Scout to think a problem through and not just giving the answer.  This empowering of the Scout to think and act is a valuable lesson to him.  Sending a Scout to his Patrol leader for answers is just as powerful.  It teaches that we have leaders that have purpose.  It makes the leader stronger, because at the point that another Scout comes to him with a question he must do something… lead.  He needs to have the skill sets and knowledge to answer the question, solve the problem or seek help.  These are great tools in teaching leadership.
So frustrated Dad, there is a method to our madness…
And what do I do?  I teach by example.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Eagle follow up…

Monday night I had the pleasure of sitting down with a young man and talking with him about his up coming Eagle Board of Review.  The Scoutmaster conference went well.. but then again, shouldn’t it?  After all this is his seventh conference, he has completed all the work and at seventeen years old, the Scout is pretty much used to talking to me.
We discussed his application and made sure all the paper work was in order.  We talked about how the board of review would go and things that I thought would help him articulate his goals to the board.  We spent a little time talking about some of the types of questions that might be asked, but by and large it was a time for me to just sit and talk with a young man that has become an Eagle Scout.
In my post on becoming an Eagle at 13 I received a comment from “the other Scoutmaster Jerry”.  In his comment he states “I hear a lot of noise about A, B, or C type Eagles, but have never met an Eagle that did not, at some point of his life, own up to his accomplishment. All Eagles will eventually realize that they are living their life by twelve words.”  And I agree with this.. this is the hope of every Scoutmaster I think.  As we sit and talk with a Scout during that Scoutmaster Conference, even for the ranks leading up to Eagle, it is my hope that one day they will be good men.  Men that live the Oath and Law in their daily lives.  After all, earning the Eagle award is not about a patch, right?  It is about accomplishment, achievement, and leadership.  It is about becoming one that is worthy of the honor.  It really is about what you become.
I still can not answer the age question, and you know, I guess I don’t have to.. the BSA has answered it for me, and while I can have an opinion.  It is not about me.. it is a young man becoming an Eagle Scout, further, becoming a valued member of the community.
Monday night as I put pen to a good Scouts book and initialed the completion of his Scoutmaster Conference, I asked him what he thought his obligation would be as an Eagle Scout.  He spoke about giving back, about living up to the reputation of what it means to be an Eagle Scout.  I thought that was interesting.  We talked about what the public knows about Scouting.  They know we camp and they know Eagle Scout.  That is for certain.  They will talk about helping old ladies across the street and they will have an understanding of the values that are learned through the Oath and Law.  But when you talk about Eagle Scouts they immediately know that it is special.
As I have grown as a Scoutmaster, I too have a better understanding about what it means to become an Eagle Scout.. no matter the age, I think that by and large Jerry is right, they grow into the responsibility, they develop a stronger consciousness about what it means to wear the highest honor in Boy Scouts, and they try to live up to it.  Do they stumble, sure, but deep inside being an Eagle Scout is something that can never be taken away and will always be a part of their lives.
I am proud of our Scouts that achieve this honor, it makes me even happier to know that they have earned it and have become an Eagle Scout.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

From the Scouts own service…

Every Camp out our Chaplains aide conducts a Scouts own service.
Recently he shared this.  Not new.. but worth repeating.

Dear Lord, Bless all those everywhere who contribute to shape the hearts, minds and bodies of young people. Let us remember what they have taught and apply it daily.

When facing deceit and dishonesty, let us be Trustworthy.
If we see hypocrisy and faithlessness, let us be Loyal.
Where disregard of others and mere materialism prevail, let us be Helpful.
When we find people in despair, let us be Friendly.
In an atmosphere of ill manner, let us be Courteous.
Where some measure manliness in brutality and crudeness, let us be Kind.
Though lawbreaking and rule-scoffing are common, let us be Obedient.
While others grumble and grouch, let us be Cheerful.
In an environment blighted by waste and extravagance, let us be Thrifty.
When confronted with danger and temptation, let us be Brave.
As we see filth and pollution everywhere, let us be Clean.
While witnessing impiety, let us remember to be Reverent.

In short, in a world that has for generation after generation lamented the lack of good examples, let us, as Scouts, stand out, grow up, and be real adults.


Have a Great Scouting Day!

Learn How to Build, Recruit, Retain Strong Units and Volunteers

From our Friends at  BSA Internal Communications  Here is a repost of a recent article that can be found on the Scout Wire.  It is two new resources have been created by Membership Impact.  The New Unit Retention guide and a Guide for Strengthening Organizations Through Scouting.  I have reposted on the Unite retention guide here.
You can scan the QR code right off of this blog to get the guide.  Yes it works I tried it. 

New-Unit Retention Guide: This book provides extensive new-unit resources covering the following topics:

Know Your Market, Build Your Team, Make the Call, and High-Performing Units. The guide is available on or by scanning the QR code at left with your smartphone. Spanish and English/Spanish editions available soon.

This is all good information that can help you and your unit.
Give it a Shot!
Have a Great Scouting Day!