Do your Scouts share your ambitions? You may be pulling in different directions if they don’t. How can we align the ambitions of our Scouts, our adult leadership and those of the Scouting program?
One way to find out is to make three lists:
List number one; adult leader ambitions
Sit down and make a list of your ambitions. Not what you think they should be but what they are. Do a little soul searching and write down the ones that come to mind without editing and see what you come up with. No fair looking at references,(you’ll do that later), write what’s in your own head.
Talk to your fellow leaders about their expectations and ambitions. Why are they involved, what do they hope to see happen?
List number two; your Scout’s ambitions.
Ask your Scouts what they hope to get out of Scouting, why they are Scouts and what they want to accomplish. Do this individually (groups of boys tend to clam up). They will not have thought about this very much so it may take some investigating before you get real answers. ‘What would you like to do as a Scout that we aren’t doing yet?’, ‘If you could do anything at all what would you do?’, ‘What’s your favorite or least favorite thing we do in Scouts?’. Ask open-ended questions that don’t compel Scouts to answer yes or no. For example instead of; ‘do you want to advance in rank?’ how about ‘How important is it to you to earn badges?’.
List number three; the ambitions of the Scouting Program (commonly called the Aims and Methods.
Compare the Lists
Cross out everything but the shared ambitions. You’ll see where your ambitions are aligned and where they are different. There’s likely to be two or three areas of strong agreement between the lists; this is where you focus your coaching and mentoring of youth leaders.
If the result doesn’t cover the aims and methods you are missing some things. Once these are identified you can go to work on making them part of the program.
My bet is most of the things you hear from your Scouts are going to be roughly like this; “I want to have fun with my friends and do stuff like camping .” A few boys will talk about advancement, a few may even mention values or skills but most of what they say will align with this statement.
It’s likely few Scouts listed planning or other administrative tasks. While you and I know that good planning is important to realizing some of their ambitions Scouts usually don’t make the connection. Can you work with them so they discover this for themselves without trying to lecture them about planning? Can you inspire them to make incremental progress from there?
Aligning our ambitions, the Scout’s ambitions and the aims of methods of Scouting is a periodic reality check.