An author was being interviewed on the radio in the background as I was working away at my desk. He was discussing building resilience in young people. As I listened I thought “Hey! Who is this guy? This sounds a lot like Scouting!”
This got me thinking about the big ideas that form the foundations of the Scouting method +and a specific instance of what I suppose you’d call “spontaneous inspiration”.
In 1907 Baden-Powell took the first Scouts camping on Brownsea Island and Italian Physician Maria Montessori opened her first Casa dei Bambini in Rome. While their efforts were directed at different age groups they were independently inspired by similar ideas and methods. Montessori and B-P expressed mutual appreciation of each other’s work later in life.
Of course the basic concepts behind their methods weren’t created by Baden-Powell or Montessori; their genius was assembling those concepts into methods. What each created has been been validated over a century of scientific scrutiny, a validation that testifies to the powerful resonance of the ideas themselves.
Back to the radio; it turned out Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg was being interviewed and after listening I got a copy of his book Building Resilience in Children and Teens. As I read I recognized Scouting explained with greater definition, clarity, and order; a “high resolution” version of familiar landmarks.
As the title indicates Ginsburg begins by introducing resilience;
If we want our children to experience the world as fully as possible— unfortunately with all its pain, and thankfully with all its joy—our goal will have to be resilience. Resilience is the capacity to rise above difficult circumstances, the trait that allows us to exist in this less-than-perfect world while moving forward with optimism and confidence.
“Resilient” is the best one-word answer to the question “what do we want our children to be?”
We know that Scouting is aimed at building character. How do we define character? I think the character we are aimed at and the qualities of resilience are one and the same. Ginsburg expands on this short-hand term by defining the “Seven Crucial Cs of Resilience”;
Competence: When we notice what young people are doing right and give them opportunities to develop important skills, they feel competent. We undermine competence when we don’t allow young people to recover themselves after a fall.
Confidence: Young people need confidence to be able to navigate the world, think outside the box, and recover from challenges.
Character: Young people need a clear sense of right and wrong and a commitment to integrity.
Contribution: Young people who contribute to the well-being of others will receive gratitude rather than condemnation. They will learn that contributing feels good and may therefore more easily turn to others, and do so without shame.
Coping: Young people who possess a variety of healthy coping strategies will be less likely to turn to dangerous quick fixes when stressed.
Control: Young people who understand privileges and respect are earned through demonstrated responsibility will learn to make wise choices and feel a sense of control.
See what I mean? The 7 Cs are a good definition of the Scout law and the Scout oath. Dr. Ginsburg has crafted a practical, compelling tool for building character; the main aim of Scouting (and parenthood). If you strive to be a better Scouter and/or better parent I recommend studying Building Resilience in Children and Teens.
Visit the Fostering Resilience website