There is a nice article in Bryan on Scouting today with comments and discussion on the blog about Scouts being on a first name basis with their adult leaders.
I know it may be bad form to take this discussion from Bryan and use it here, so I apologize up front and if you will allow me to approach it as an opinion piece I will be ever grateful.
So, in my opinion… And given the comments on Bryan’s Blog I am in the minority, I am a big fan of first names.
In my Troop we use first names for everyone from the committee to the members of the new Scout patrol. The only argument for not using first names that I can find (again referencing Bryan on Scouting) is the issue of respect.
Comments like “Mr. And Mrs. It shows respect, and also gets the boys in the habit of respecting their elders when not at scouts” kind of bother me in that it is clear that formal names are not a great indicator of respect. I work for a company (UPS) which, from the beginning has been a “First name” company. From the CEO to the newest part time employee, everyone is on a first name basis. Respect comes from how people act.
I served in the Army for 21 years. In that time the naming convention, which is the only convention allowed in the Army is Rank followed by last name.. Sergeant Smith for example. I served with people for years and never knew their first names. It is a method of forcing respect due to an authority. There are many leaders in the Army that I respected because I had to, but when it comes to real respect I can honestly say I did not respect them as individuals.
So what is it that we are trying to teach our Scouts?
First, I am not an authority figure. I am their Scoutmaster. A teacher,coach, and mentor. As these young men grow, I want them to respect me for my actions and what I have taught them. I want them to know that they have access to me and that Mr. Schleining is approachable and is their friend.
Baden Powell said that a “The Scoutmaster guides the boy in the spirit of an older brother”.
I understand that many folks feel a strong connection to the “Way it used to be” implying that the old days were better. Well yes and no.. the old days were different and the standard of the “old days” can’t always be applied today. Respect is not measured by how you address someone. When we teach the Scout about respect that is done by us being mutual in that respect. I respect our Scouts as much as I expect to respected. As long as their language and actions demonstrate an attitude of respect than the Scout is practicing those lessons taught. Using the Scout Oath and Law to guide the Scout in those actions will compel him to show respect to his leaders. The fact that they call me Jerry does not take away from that.
We do not live in a time depicted in Normal Rockwell paintings. Too many adults feel that young people today lack respect. No, I can’t paint all young people with that wide brush. Sure, there are young people that lack respect, but then again, you can find examples of that in every age. There has always been an element of young folks that did not have respect for authority, institutions, and other people. What and how we teach in more important than what we are called.
It’s all about how we teach and coach our Scouts.
Ever since I was a Cubmaster, I have asked that the Scouts and their parents call me Jerry. Some parents are not comfortable with this and I understand, so they may call me Scoutmaster Jerry or Mr. Schleining.. I really don’t care. When I am called Mr. Schleining by a Scout I tend to return the greeting by calling the Scout Mr. Soinso.. They don’t feel comfortable with that either, but again I am trying to teach them that we can respect one another with first names.
Here is the bottom line and I will close with this thought. I am here to serve them Scouts. They do not have to earn respect from me, I have to earn their respect. I am their Scoutmaster and as such.. their friend. We treat one another as we would like to be treated.
I would like to thank Bryan for a good thought provoking article. It is a great discussion and is obviously one that has differing opinions. Thanks for letting me share mine.
What are your thoughts on this issue? I would love to hear.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
I consider myself a traditional Scouter. What I mean by that is that I believe in the program as it has been and how it should be. I am a fan of William “Green Bar Bill” Hillcourt and the program as Baden Powell set in his vision for Scouting. I am sure that the program as outlined by those men hold up today as they did back then and one of the elements of that vision is or are the traditions of Scouting.
Each Troop has it’s own traditions and customs. They give the unit identity and connect the current and future Scouts with the past. Traditions run deep in the Scouting movement. The handclasp, the salute, and the sign. They are not just elements of identity, they go back to the founder and there are reasons we have them. The handclasp for example is not just a handshake, the root of our handclasp in Scouting comes from Baden Powell’s service in Africa. He noticed that the warriors would place their shields on the ground when meeting with a stranger. They kept their spear in the their right hand when then joined hands with the stranger using their left hand. This was a sign of trust. They were in essence putting down their guard showing the other person that they were trusting the exchange would be friendly.
The Scout neckerchief was not just a fashion statement, but a way that early units identified themselves. Before Troop numbers, the color of the neckerchief seen from afar could identify a Troop to other Troops. Again, it served a purpose other than fashion. It was a useful tool in first aid and kept the sun off of the neck. Today, most units opt away from the neckerchief. I wish we all still wore them, they are a great piece of Scouting.
Campfire songs and Patrol flags are yet more of Scouting’s great traditions. A Troop that enjoys the cheerfulness of the campfire is truly living the vision of Scouting’s founder.
Many Scout camps have traditions they use to promote the camp atmosphere and create a connection to the camp. A camp song, flags in the dinning hall or lodge, some icon that is the beacon or icon that is used to connect the camper to the camp.
Troops establish traditions that connect older Scouts with newer Scouts and lay the foundation for the Troop to live long into the future. A troop hat or special patch, the troop yell or song and the way they set up camp. In our Troop, we have a wonderful tradition of singing vespers at the end of each meeting and camp fire. We are a singing Troop. Camp fires are always fun and full of song and laughter. We have a distinctive hat. It has become a feature of ours that is easily identified within our district. We also have established the tradition of being a Backpacking style Troop. The Scouts pride themselves in their ability to pack it all in and pack it out quickly. The Troop does it’s best to be the first Troop packed and loaded at Camporee. What started as just a method of camping has become a tradition.
Some of Scouting’s other great traditions are the way we wear our uniform. With the exception of the uniform style changes, the uniform is the uniform, not only a method, but again a way of identifying us as Scouts the world over.
Wood Badge is a great Scouting tradition that links us to the founder. His way of passing on the importance of trained adult leaders and that link for leaders all over the world to provide quality programs to the youth they serve.
When most people think of traditional Scouting they think about Scouting “back when I was a kid”… for the most part “Traditional Scouting” represents Scouting before the 1960’s. This is that period of Scouting found in the paintings of Norman Rockwell. It is the the vision of Scouting we all see when we close our eyes and think about what Scouting should look like. That is the Scouting, even though I was not a Scout “way back then”, that I consider traditional and where most tradition comes from.
The basics are still there and always have been, but we know that starting in about 1972 the Boy Scouts of America looked for new identity. The Scouting movement in America changed drastically to meet the needs and changes in American culture. I can remember back in the ’70’s as a Cub Scout and young Boy Scout the Scouting programs of “Boy Power” and finding a way to bring Scouting to the youth of the era. But the traditions of Scouting were still there just waiting for Scouts to pick them up and rally to the vision of the Founder.
The Order of the Arrow is full of it’s traditions. Mainly found within the purpose and values of the organization and it’s ceremonies. From it’s beginning the tradition of service has been the mainstay of the Order of the Arrow and has strengthened Scouting as a result.
The Uniform, the Outdoor Program, the Patrol Method, and Patches are all traditions of Scouting. They serve as methods to achieve the Aims, as well as provide lasting ways that we pass Scouting on from generation to generation.
Patch collecting and trading, Jamborees and Conclaves, and playing games within the Patrol all help in providing traditional Scouting programs. They are the things that we think about when we talk about Scouting.
Looking at our Scout Slogan of “Doing a Good turn Daily” is as tradition laced as it gets in Scouting. From the very beginning when William Boyce found himself lost on a foggy London street assisted by a Scouting that would accept no pay for his help the tradition of service and values based programming have long lasted in Scouting.
It’s more that old stuff that we keep doing. It is our identity, our program, our organization that is steep in tradition and we are the keepers of that tradition. It is up to us to create traditions with our Scouts and promote those traditions that have for over 100 years been apart of Scouting.
Singing, collecting patches, hiking, camping, and helping old ladies across the street… it’s all Scouting and we need to preserve it and make it stronger.
What are some traditions in your Troop? What are some traditions you love in Scouting? What is that one tradition that you love from your Scouting past?
I would love for you to share. Scouts Honor.. (That’s another tradition in Scouting) Have a Great Scouting Day!
Today is Founders Day. A day in Scouting when we celebrate our Founder Lord Robert S.S. Baden-Powell of Gilwell.
This would be his 157th birthday. It is fitting that today was spent training Adult leaders this morning and celebrating a Cub Scout Packs Blue and Gold this evening, along with the crossing over of 6 Scouts into my Troop.
A day packed with Scouting, all in a positive way.
Baden-Powell was more than just the founder of Scouting, he was truly a visionary. Not in a mystical sense, but in the vision that he had for youth. He understood youth and knew the direction that they needed to go. Not the direction they may have wanted to go, but needed to go. I think of that often as a Scoutmaster. These young men come to us with expectations and we mentor them on a journey. Through guided discovery we take them on an adventure that leads them where we know they need to go disguised in a game that the youth are willing to play.
“The most worth-while thing is to try to put happiness into the lives of others.”
I think that when BP came back from the war, he had like most veterans a different appreciation for life and the direction that life should be taken. In reading his writings we know that Baden-Powell had seen and done enough in the service of England and dedicated himself thereafter to promoting peace and happiness. I have heard that being happy is a moral obligation as it affects those around you. Spreading happiness is certainly worth-while.
“The good turn will educate the boy out of the groove of selfishness.”
I talk a lot about service. Service to others is not just a Scout thing, but a human thing. When we wrap our hearts and arms around that, we become selfless servants.
Scouting started because of a man who felt the need to serve and to teach others to serve.
Today we honor that man. Lord Baden-Powell, founder of Scouting!
Have a Great Scouting Day!
PS. Sorry there will be no Quick tip this week. The plate got way to full, I will resume the next week with the Saturday Quick tip.
There has been much said, yeah.. even here on this blog, about how Scouting has changed to meet the needs of the lowest common denominator. A greater emphasis on merit badge work shops and staying within an arms reach of a cell phone. Sometimes I wonder if we in Scouting are still delivering the promise.. you know the promise of Scouting.
I find it interesting that when we look back in the not to distant past that Scouting was much different. Even as far back as when I was a Scout there were not the concerns of life as we know it in today’s Scouting world.
Now I am a believer that we do need to bring Scouting to where the boys are.. but sometimes we should take the boys back to where we came from.
Baden Powell once said “By the term Scouting…is meant the work and attributes of backwoodsmen, explorers, hunters, seamen, airmen, pioneers, and frontiersmen.”
The 1947 Handbook for Scoutmasters goes on to add, “The word ‘Scout’ opens up to the boy the picture of open spaces, woods, rivers, and lakes, mountains which are to be his playground and where he will have his fun.” It goes on to say, “It is this promise of adventure, of camping and life in the outdoors that lures the boy into Scouting. We MUST keep faith with him by giving him that adventure – not just to satisfy him, but because it is the best way we have of holding him.”
There is more written in the Handbook for Scoutmasters that reinforces this idea of adventure and the promise of Scouting, I wonder when we stopped talking about that. There is no mention of it in the current Scoutmaster Handbook.
We have allowed lawyers to dictate that adventure. We have allowed video games and laziness to dictate our levels of activity and we worry about Scouts leaving the program because we need the numbers.
I believe that every boy should be in Scouting… but not for merit badges or bobbles and beads. I think they should be seeking adventure! Like we did when I was a boy. Adventure! Parents need to allow this to happen.. that’s where it starts.
You know, there were just as many creeps in the world in the 70’s and 80’s as there are today. The world really is not more creepy.. the difference… we have 24 hour news now and this wonderful thing called the internet.
We rode our bikes to and from Scout troop meetings. Heck, we rode our bikes everywhere. We were told not to talk to strangers and never to take candy from them.. and you know, we came out alright. Every day in the summer we left in the morning and came home in time for dinner. Looking for adventure.
In Scouts we found adventure. We camped with our Patrols, we did not need… nor did we want, all the adults hanging around. The fewer of them the better. Our parents were concerned about us, but knew that we would be ok. We trusted our Scoutmaster and the skills we were taught and we looked for adventure at every turn.
Not every Patrol got a ribbon at Camporee.. but then again, they were not all about competing either.. they were about skills and discovering new things.
Our PLC had a blank check to plan the next big adventure. I remember when I was a Tenderfoot Scout we had the biggest adventure ever. Our Troop was dropped off in Belgium to take a ferry across the English channel. Once we arrived in England we took a bus to the Baden Powell house and stayed there for a few days. We explored the local area and got to camp at Gilwell Park. 2 weeks from when we left home, we boarded the ferry and back we went. We only had 2 adults with us the whole trip and it was an adventure of a life time.
The old Handbook for Scoutmasters suggests that we can retain Scouts because “it [adventure] is the best way we have of holding him.” The best way! I firmly believe that if we just allowed it, we can get back there. I don’t think that boys have changed much… it is the parents that did the changing. You know.. I can’t remember one kid when I was growing up that had peanut allergies.. now you can’t even say the word peanut without some Mom yelling that her son is allergic. I think it’s time we give our boys their adventure back. I think it’s time that we go back to actually delivering the promise and not just Eagle Awards. I think it is time that all of us Scouters ask the simple question.. are we still delivering the promise?
Just my buck and half.. curious to hear you thoughts. Weigh in. Have a Great Scouting Day!