Scoutmasters need to understand what makes Scouting different from everything else – why young men and women have been Scouts all over the world for the past century. If they take the time to do this they’ll avoid most Eagle Scout problems.
Scouting’s founder Baden-Powell envisioned a movement that would give everyone the opportunity to challenge and achievement based not on a single standard of performance but on a highly individualized, internalized standard. (Read Baden-Powell’s thoughts on this here).
If we can encourage Scouts to define, internalize and follow an internal standard of acheivement we will have given them an set of skills that will immeasurably enrich their lives and communities.
Like many Scoutmasters I was initially frustrated by the lack of measurable metrics in Scouting. Just what is Scout Spirit? What percentage of meetings or camp outs must a Scout attend to be considered active? How does one measure the effectiveness of someone’s leadership?
Metrics are missing for a good reason; every Scout and every Scout’s circumstances in life are different. Scouts who are academically talented and Scouts who are poor students, from affluent families, from poor families all become Eagle Scouts. There are no class-a or class-b Eagle Scouts.
So one particularly common source of Eagle Scout drama is eliminated when Scoutmasters understand and embrace the concept of individual effort evaluated by an individualized standard. Can’t you use this individualized standard to justify bad behavior, poor performance and indifference? How does a Scoutmaster hold Scouts accountable if everyone is going to advance anyway?
The answer is actually very simple, it should be part of every Scoutmaster conference and I’ll write about it in my next post.