A new Scoutmaster needs to be trained but that training needs to be supplemented by your own reading and study.
Most of the time when Scouting goes awry it’s because adults are ignorant of the program. You’ll learn how the program works fairly quickly and spend as many years as you like perfecting your skills. It’s like a game of golf – moments to learn, a lifetime to master.
You need to know confidently what is and what is not good Scouting. Troops develop their way of doing things over time. I haven’t seen a troop yet (including my own) that couldn’t use some improvement and adjustment. If you find that you are not following policy, change your practice. More about that tomorrow.
I encourage you to study, to learn, and to apply your knowledge. Be courageous enough to change your mind when you learn something new. It’s tempting to substitute our own judgement for 102 years of experiences – after all it takes a bit of ego to be a Scoutmaster – but stick with the program – you won’t regret it.
Knowledge is power – know what resources contain and whenever a question arises RUN TO THE RESOURCE.
Here’s what you’ll want to read cover-to-cover, notebook nearby, highlighter in hand:
Scout Handbook – Get your own copy (12th edition) and get to know the handbook. You can teach yourself a great deal by just reading the handbook (it is remarkable that many Scoutmasters have not actually read the Scout handbook)
Scoutmaster Handbook – A loose-leaf notebook with lot’s of information and good advice. Read it carefully.
Guide to Safe Scouting – Don’t look at this as a set of restrictions but as knowledge that empowers you to keep your Scouts safe. At one point you are likely to find something you don’t like in the GTSS – don’t try to work around it, don’t look for a way out, be loyal to what it says and keep you Scouts safe.
Guide to Advancement 2013 – Look at the relevant sections dealing with Scout advancement and read them carefully.
Uniform and Insignia Guide – Answers a lot of nitpicking questions that can actually develop into real problems (There are two basic proper patch placement problem people; people placing patches improperly and people policing improper patch placement painfully – be neither.)
Aids To Scoutmastership -Baden-Powell’s succinct description of the movement he founded. Scouting’s essential concepts still ring true a century later.
Online Information – If it is not an official Boy Scouts of America publication or online resource it is not an authoritative source of information. This includes your’s truly – If what I say or write is not consistent with the policies and practices of the Boy Scouts of America I am wrong.