Before you read these ten common Scouting mistakes, let’s agree that being a Scouter means always moving towards the ideal, but we never truly arrive.
Ideals are like stars: you will not succeed in touching them with your hands, but like the seafaring man on the ocean desert of waters, you choose them as your guides, and following them, you reach your destiny.
– Carl Schurz
1. Making Things More efficient
Would things would go so more smoothly if we just made a few changes? Perhaps, but some changes to gain efficiency would compromise the opportunity for Scouts to do for themselves.
2. Applying Uniform Standards
Our standard for badge earning—as I have frequently said—is not to attain a certain level of quality of work (as in school), but the AMOUNT OF EFFORT EXERCISED BY THE INDIVIDUAL CANDIDATE.
Baden-Powell Standardization of Badges
3. Over-Valuing Metrics
Scouting is more a mirror for individual assessment and development than a measuring stick. The answer is not in numbers of camp outs, number of hours or contracts; not snap judgments or fits of temper.
Instead of metrics just ask The Guy in the Glass.
4. Thinking of themselves as the boss
“Scoutmaster” doesn’t mean “master” of anything. In fact, if we substitute “servant” for “master” we’ll be a lot closer to the truth of the matter.
5. Making Our Own policies
Every once in a while we run across doctrinaire, fussy, hairsplitting, nitpicking, people who promulgate rules and regulations from thin air; these self-appointed “experts” are specialists in Scouting’s Urban Legends
6. Being the Senior Patrol Leader
The young man was still puzzled. “Okay, let’s go back a minute. If you guys do everything without the SM’s guidance, how do you know what to do at meetings and activities?”
7. Not Using the Patrol Method
The Patrol is the unit of Scouting always, whether for work or for play, for discipline or for duty.
Read The Patrol Method
8. Discouraging Scouts
I spent a few years discouraging Scouts by throwing every possible impediment in their path. I was the worst kind of Scoutmaster; a self-appointed guardian of an unattainable standard of perfection.
What I became was a grumpy old man ready to swat any hand that reached for my holy awards.
Read Scouting Standards
9. Managing Instead of Cultivating.
There is too much “management science” in Scouting. We should stop trying to manage programs, Scouts, patrols and troops. Scoutmastership is much more akin to gardening than management.
Read Cultivating Scouting
10. Skewed Perspective
If you look at the first nine mistakes they are all about skewed perspective or basic misunderstandings.
Certainly our work is important, but we must not allow that to cause us to be self important.
If we look at things from a Scout’s perspective we’ll see things differently, and change our approach to make things better.