Saw this comment today:
“He’s got a bunch of older Scouts who run his troop for him, he’s lucky!”
Lucky? Not at all, that’s how Scouting works.
“He’s got a bunch of older Scouts…”
Yes, we have a bunch of older Scouts, when I think “older” I think about any Scout over thirteen. Younger Scouts are often just as capable, they just need someone to believe in them.
“… who run his troop for him …”
There’s a couple of problems with that.
First it is “my” troop in the sense that I am technically a member of the troop, but: I am not a Scout, I don’t participate as a Scout, that’s not why I am there. (Besides Scouts are infinitely more important than me or any other Scouter.)
The troop consists of, and is owned by the Scouts; not the adults who are there to help.
Second this assumes it’s my responsibility to “run the troop”. This is a common misapprehension on the part of many of us Scouters. I am not responsible for “running” anything; I don’t run meetings, I don’t run camping trips, I don’t run the patrol leader’s council, I don’t run the advancement program, I don’t run the committee, I don’t run fundraisers, I don’t run anything.
The reason I am there, the most important thing I do, is providing the opportunity for Scouts to be Scouts and run their own troop.
“… he’s lucky!”
I didn’t “luck” into this, it’s a result of understanding my role and applying that understanding – that can be pretty hard work for some of us.
I will say that am fortunate to have the priceless opportunity to work with so many wonderful young people, fellow Scouters, and their families.
Truth be told there have been many times over thirty years of doing this that I felt distinctly unlucky! There have been many, many, problems and setbacks, large and small, along the way and I have been on the edge of giving up many times.
Every once in a while things go especially well, and then I feel lucky (after all, even a blind pig roots up a truffle every once in a while): but the rest of the time luck has nothing to do with being a Scouter.
If you aren’t focused on creating the opportunity for a bunch of Scouts (young or old) to run their troop you are missing out!
I’ve heard all of the reservations and objections a hundred times, and they are all just dead wrong. Scouts will amaze you with their abilities, the only thing you need to do is get out of their way!
Clarke, yes it’s true that younger Scouts are capable too, and I have more than once had to remind an older Scout that they started leadership at the same age as a Scout who they currently think is too young. (Happened Monday night, in fact.)
But I think you’re leaving out another benefit of boy led. (No doubt you know it, but I think it’s worth mentioning.) I suspect you really *do* have more older Scouts than many other Troops. I know we do. My Troop has tripled in the last 6 years since my predecessor started the process to boy led-Patrol centered. The difference is mostly retention, not recruiting – we’re approaching 50% high-school-age Scouts. If they feel they’re achieving something, they’ll stay. And by achieving something, I mean planning, leading, and teaching, not leaving the little Scouts home to go get some adrenaline. In fact, my old Scouts’ favorite trip is “Webelos Woods”, where they get to teach Webelos how to do Scout skills. (Fire building seems to be their preference… I hope they don’t burn the state down with our current California drought!)