No doubt – Scout leader training is invaluable, as are the selfless folks who volunteer to train their fellow Scouters (thank you if you do!)
I recommend you take advantage of every training opportunity possible. Trained Scouters are more likely to do good, and less likely to do harm.
Scout leader training is focused on technique, facts, and procedures; all admittedly valuable things to know, but training has limitations.
There are limited opportunities for developing an understanding of the concepts that inform the techniques, facts, and procedures – to gain the knowledge that enables us to resolve the hundreds of interesting questions Scouting poses.
Answers drawn from technique, facts, and procedures are less effective than answers drawn from an understanding of the broader underlying concepts that inform them.
Perhaps you feel as I do sometimes, like we are just clicking Lego bricks together without ever actually understanding what that Lego brick is, or how it relates to all the other bricks. Sometimes we end up with theoretically perfect combinations of technique, facts and procedures that just don’t work.
Knowing what to do is not knowing why it should be done.
Standard operating procedures may indeed advance our aims, but they must always be questioned and examined. When we don’t ask why we do what we do and question the way we do it, we will find ourselves caught in a cul-de-sac of tradition and habit. Tradition and habit should not be rejected out of hand, but both must stand up to very close scrutiny.
Knowledge is powerful, policy is weak.
Educating volunteers is difficult and costly. Creating layers of organizational policy is less difficult and costly, but policy is a blunt instrument, it attempts to get volunteers to do the right things by hemming them in with polices that outlaw the wrong things. If we educate our volunteers they will do the right things naturally.
Simplicity is more powerful than complexity.
Scouting’s founder asserted that “Scouting is simple”, and “Scouting is not an abstruse or difficult science, rather it is a jolly game if you take it in the right light“. Scouters with a firm grasp on simplicity are effective. The game is simple, the field of play is clear, and the rules are simple.
Oddly enough it turns out simplicity is much more difficult to learn. Try drawing a perfect simple circle in one stroke, or making a perfect drive in golf. It’s easier to teach complexities because there are so many things to talk about you never really have to understand why you are teaching them.
Individuality is stronger than standardization.
Scouting is aimed at individuals, not herds, and we reach our aim one Scout at a time. Standardizing how Scouts meets our expectations often leads to imposing limitations that are not only logically impossible, but work against the aims we strive to achieve. It’s easy to teach standardization, and much more challenging to learn how to work with individuals.
What’s the answer?
Naturally there’s no single answer. Asking questions of our program, ourselves and our fellow Scouters is a good start. I’ve had a lot of fun writing about this simple game over the past decade, and playing the game for the past thirty five years. I am working on SeminarCG.com (sign up for updates here), a resource aimed at making us all better Scouters.
Strive to know your role as a Scouter, get trained, don’t wait for knowledge to find you; seek it out.