Frustrated with your youth leadership? Does it seem as though every effort to get them motivated falls short? Wish for ‘the good old days’ when ‘Scouting really meant something’ and boys were able to think for themselves?
See if you don’t share some of the frustrations expressed by this Scoutmaster:
We are continually being told that our Scouts want to run things, for themselves.
Is this really so?
Am I the only Scoutmaster that has come out of a patrol leader’s council exhausted and apoplectic?
Give my boys their head in camp and the Seniors will make one mad rush for the nearest girl, while the youngsters will (a) settle down with a comic, (b) moan they have nothing to do, (c) take a bus into the nearest town (even if it is just round the corner) and have an entertaining time wandering round Woolworths.
I am tired of arranging Saturday wide games, outings, etc. – and seeing a quarter of the Troop turn up.
I am sick and tired of arranging training sessions and having one or two boys attend. Of course most of these sessions should not be necessary if the Patrols held Patrol Meetings, but just try to persuade them to do so!
I have several boys who have been with us now for two or three years and have made little progress towards Second Class. Are they disheartened or unhappy? Not on your life; the only time they are unhappy is when I tactfully suggest it is time they had a shot at another test.
I feel it is about time we had a few articles suggesting how we can train our boys to want to think for themselves, and not quite so many slanging the poor Scoutmaster for his bad psychology.
It would interest you to know that I found this in a letter to the editor of The Scouter magazine published by the UK Scouts in 1956 three years before I was born.
One of the replies to this letter was published in a later issue of The Scouter
Ever since the genus “Boy” was invented it has been characterised by a careless, happy-go-lucky, chuckle-headed approach to all its affairs. “A boy’s will is the wind’s will.” Are we not too apt to expect that, as soon as we put a boy into uniform and call him a Boy Scout, he will automatically become a cross between The Admirable Crichton and Capability Brown?
Here and there, of course, one runs across an infant prodigy who conducts business with the efficiency of a managing director; who prefers signalling to British bulldogs. I know that such exist but, thank Heavens, it has never been my misfortune to have one in my Troop. Personally I have a deep distrust of infant prodigies. The boyhood of most of our greatest men would not bear too close a scrutiny.
We must always remember that Scouting is a long-term policy – not a magic wand. We accept the boy in his “wild” state and, in course of some seven years, try to help him to weather the storms of growing up.
The author has perhaps overlooked the duty of a Scouter to “give guidance.” There is a big difference between “guidance” and undue interference. The basic principle of the Patrol System is “let the boys make their mistakes, – but don’t let them crash.
As in everything else the theory of the Patrol System can be carried to extremes when it becomes absurd. I suppose that most boys, if left entirely to their own devices, would choose to camp in the middle of a fun fair. They don’t know any better; haven’t got the experience – and we can’t blame them.
My own patrol leader’s council “waffles” abominably. It takes them just one and a half minutes to get off the point. Incidentally so do several adult committees on which I have the misfortune to serve.
I like to listen to the “waffling,, – it is often most instructive. A point, however, is reached when it appears that we will be late for breakfast – then I “interfere” with a demand for a decision on the matter in hand. I regard that as necessary “guidance.” Much the same applies to implementing of such decisions. Left entirely to themselves things are not liable to happen. In my experience adult Committees are very little better in this respect.
As always may I conclude with a thought as to what B.-P.’s attitude would have been. When a boy couldn’t light a fire “with natural materials” he said, “Don’t be a fool – give him paper.” When boys can’t run a Troop completely on their own “give them guidance.
Well, the more things change the more they remain the same. Scouting is indeed not ‘a magic wand’, but it remains a powerful source for good. Scouts haven’t changed all that much, and neither have Scoutmasters.
Mike Marti says
I am so used to the chaos that comes from working with young men who are trying to find their place in this world. I have come to expect most of what was written, except since I retired my helicopter pilot wings and took a step back to allow the Scouts to organize and implement their schedule more young men are showing up to events, and joining the Troop.
What wears me out is holding the parents at bay when their young man is not performing to their standard. Unfortunately they will never see because they drop him off is when it all comes together and the Troop gets it done.
At our Court of Honor last night when I went to explain the significance of the “Honor Scout” Award from Summer Camp my former Senior Patrol Leader joined in and said the young man getting the award was the only Scout in the Troop who didn’t melt down during Camp.
After everyone stopped laughing I told the audience that while I love to see the Scouts do Scouting, where they grow the most is when its the roughest. Seeing that change is priceless.
Christopher Beaver says
Hi, Clarke! Boy I sure needed this post today. I’ve been getting discouraged lately because it seems like turnout is getting lower and lower and meetings are getting harder and harder. I have to remind myself that I can only guide the boys and offer them the chance to go outdoors. When the get out there they have a good time. It’s just the forethought and planning that throws them for a loop. I’ve been giving myself pep talks and I think I feel myself coming out of the slump!
SM Ron says
These are the good old days….said the 54 year old scouter with the 1969 external frame canvas pack which holds his 2012 mummy bag, his older brother’s 1958 mess kit and his brand new 2013 Summit National Jamboree LED headlamp. He’s on the trail hiking with one 60+ scouter and one 32 year old scouter shepherding/coaching/mentoring boys from 10 to 17 to a marker put in place in 1883. The PLC planned this hike and the Committee put together the rides and permits. And it feels just like when his scoutmaster did a similiar hike with him the year Neil and Buzz stepped on the moon. These are the good old days.
What you’re pointing is a on-going problem in any large organization that sees a huge influx of new families every single year. It has no end. It will ALWAYS need to be addressed. And at least as far as I can determine … has no real specific training in the BSA. (Surely the one-hour “This Is Scouting” comes no where near the full understanding of the program.)
I work primarily with Cub Leaders and was discussing only last night with a Unit Commissioner her tale of a new Cub leader who was adamant that requiring the purchase and wearing of the Cub Scout uniform was ludicrous and would cost the Pack membership. Two years after that episode, the gentleman returned to her profusely apologizing and now sees how important the uniform is to the program.
What we’re talking about here is inter-personal interactions, new parents and scouts education, patience, a clear understanding of the history and values of Scouting. We’re talking about the slow realization of how things work and why they work that can only come through spending time with the program, with the kids, in training and reading.
Surely this would be a fantastic Commissioner College Doctorate dissertation, no? 🙂