Competitive Choice

DSCN4484I think sometimes that you need to go through some time of reflection, ranting, and deep soul-searching before one can come to clear resolution or insightful solution to a problem.  With any luck this process happens quickly so you can move on.
As most of you know or are aware, last month was a tough one for me mentally as I was attacked by this overwhelming need to solve the problem of lazy Scouts.  And as it turned out lazy adults too.. after all, that is where lazy is learned I have found.
Through much thought and soul-searching and study I have found some solution, but am not yet there.  What I am over is the ranting stage and now deep into the fixing stage.
We started some of these fixes during our last Troop camp out by going back to the basics and reintroducing the concept of modeled behavior, learning to lead ones self, and focusing on the little things.  Those three areas will make a change in the way things have been going and with proper follow-up and mentoring we will stay on track.
What I also found is that even the laziest kid can not pass up an opportunity to compete.
Competition can be a great motivator.  No one likes to lose and no one wants to be left out.  So enter a competitive component in pretty much all of our upcoming activities.
Yes we will have winners and losers, but with good reflection and training, every one will come out a winner for it.
During the last camp out we had the older Scouts pack up and set up camp in a new location.  It went well, but noticed short cuts and a lack of attention to detail.  So we did it again after retraining and reflection.  The second time we did it we added the competitive advantage.  It was a race.  They had to pack (properly) and get to a new location and set up (properly).  The winner would be the Scout that got everything set up with no mistakes.  What we found was that 11 of the 12 set up everything with no errors, but all of them competed.  We also found that because it was a race, the time was faster even though they were looking at all the details.
The point is that they know what they are doing.  They make a choice to be lazy.  Competition took away that choice.
Thoughtful consideration and looking beyond being upset about laziness brought this out.  I think that we need to step back at times and really look at ways to demonstrate leadership.  As I teach the boys, leaders provide Purpose, Direction, and Motivation.  And that is just what we did with this.  They know the purpose and direction, and we used some competition to motivate.
Man I love this leadership stuff.. it always works!
We will keep you posted as this group of young leaders really start shining!
Have a Great Scouting Day! 


  1. Jerry,
    I read the article about the little stuff, and am a bit confused about what the little things are. You want to teach the right way to do things, but is there ever an absolute “right way” to do something? For example, packing the pack. First, in goes item one, then in goes item two, then in goes item three, and so on. I assume that you have packed multiple times, you have discovered that the balance of the pack is better when you pack in a certain order, you have measured the weight and volume of the items, and finally come to the conclusion that the order of packing works for you. But is this the “right way?” If you pack Item one, then item three, then Item two, is this a deficient packing order. When you teach this to the boys, do they all have the same gear, pack, volume, body type and strength and walking pace that you have, all of which can be parameters in determining the correct way to pack the pack?

    It seems to me that if you spent the time to find the optimal way of doing this packing, you experimented with this and that piece of gear, this packing order, this pack buckle setting, etc. until you got something that works for you. I have watched your videos of your gear testing. Why the Blackbird over the Hennessy? Why the candle lantern over a battery powered lantern or a butane powered lantern? You see what I mean. You have tested and worked it out.

    Should you not be training your scouts to do the same. Should they not be experimenting to find out the best way to do this stuff for themselves, especially when some of the skills are subjective to the person, so that what works well for one will not work or matter to the next person. Can we train them to do the research for themselves and discover how to solve problems?

    How to do this? On a trek, have the scouts pack sleeping bag first, cooking gear last. After a mile, have them unpack and reload in another order. If you go another mile, stop, unpack, and load in yet a different order. Ask them at the end of the hike what felt the best in carrying the load. Have them answer the question, what worked best and what worked the least. Have them draw their own conclusions.

    If I am not understanding what little things you have in mind, then so be it. But training scouts is leading scouts into self discovery on the way to maturity. If they fail, they learn, at least what not to do again. If they succeed, they gain confidence, and go on to more self discovery. Is that not the idea?


    1. I appreciate your comments but I do think that I may have mis communicated or you read something into this process.
      There is only one right way of doing things. We all know what right looks like. When it comes to packing a backpack we know that nothing should be hung or flopping around on the outside. Where your sleeping bag or clothing bag or anything else is not the point as long as it is inside and you can effectively carry it. Once you can no longer carry it or the pack “looks” wrong, it is time for retraining and repacking.
      Experimenting is part of the learning yes. But we are talking about leadership in this case and finding the ‘right’ look. There are no tents the same in my troop. Yet every tent should be set up right. You know what that looks like because there are certain characteristics that make it right. You can walk into any campsite and know when something looks wrong. Fixing those things are where the critical eye come in and focusing on the little things.
      I am in no way taking away the experimentation or discovery of the Scout. I am teaching them that in what ever they do… do it the right way.
      Again, I hear what you are saying and I think contextually we may be talking about two different things.
      Let me know if I am on target here.
      Thanks for the comment.


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