It may be that the most difficult thing to get about Scouting is figuring out what it isn’t. It is not a boys club, a baby sitting service, an academic system, an ideology, or a program of activities.
The Scouting movement was born as a simple response to the inherent need of boys to have some direction and structure to their lives as they go about becoming adults. The proof of Scouting’s universality and genius is it has been adopted in vastly different cultures and locales over more than a century.
Scouting, as I have said before, is more gardening than management. Provide the right elements for Scouts and they blossom with potential.
One element we often miss is a sort of “benign neglect” that allows them room to grow;
- Neglect the imposition of regimentation and rules – but encourage Scouts to discover the necessity of both.
- Be a little indifferent to achievement and advancement – but foster the challenges that create them.
- Forget that you have answers to their questions – help them develop the habit of finding their own way.
- Take a step back and let Scouts lead Scouts, then take another step back – maybe even two or three more.
- Neglect the opportunity to criticize and heap on the encouragement.
Scouters maintain a safe, secure environment for all this to work. We guard against both excess and inaction. We maintain focus. Our Scouts benefit from a wide latitude to find their own answers, set their own standards, and live their own lives.