Here’s the latest question posed by Scouting Magazine’s ‘What Would You Do‘ column:
Our troop has just seven Scouts who are 14 or older, including me, and then 15 to 20 younger Scouts. On camp-outs, the younger Scouts don’t listen to us, and they give us attitude when we ask them to do something. We have tried many things, but nothing seems to work. Could you give us some ideas?
Scout A.S. San Jose, Calif.
What leaders you respect and why do you respect them? Is it because they commanded that you respect them? Probably not.
I have frequently stated that “anyone can be a commander, and a trained man may often make an instructor; but a leader is more like the poet… ” Baden-Powell
B.P. speaks of three different sorts of people the commander, the instructor and the leader. An echo of the leaders described in this well known quote;
The best leader is one that the people are barely aware of.
The next best is one who is loved and praised by the people.
Next comes one who is feared.
Worst is one who is despised.
If the leader does not have enough faith in his people,
They will not have faith in him.
The best leader puts great value in words and says little
So that when his work is finished
The people all say, “We did it ourselves!”
From the Tao Te Ching
Good leadership empowers people to do things for themselves.
The commander and instructor call attention to themselves that results in praise or fear or has their followers laughing at them.
Most importantly a leader must have faith in their followers. By seeing the world as they do, by valuing their time as important as their own real leaders create an atmosphere of shared accomplishment.
This question was also posted on Facebook and garnered these comments:
“Request that a parent stays on camp outs. the kids will listen then! “
If youth leaders have to rely on adults to make things happen they aren’t doing much leading are they?
“Have a punishment if they don’t cooperate then they don’t get rank advancements and can’t come the next camp out.”
If they get punished they won’t be interested in the next camp out anyway. Positive reinforcement and encouragement works much better (we call it Scouting!).
“Separate them into smaller groups, giving each group a difficult task to complete. Each group should not include “buddies”. The group that is successful first wins a prize.”
That’s called Patrols and you definitely want to have ‘buddies’ together in a Patrol! If you rely on prizes or punishments or adults you’ll always need them. Learning to lead is a much better option.
There were also some really good answers too:
This is where Scouting is different . Boys lead boys in Scouting. In Scouting we teach Servant Leadership at all levels… Respect cannot be commanded, it must be earned. The Patrol Method is THE plan for the troop.
Boy scouts troop are Boy Lead.. so adults can’t tell the boys to do things… how can a 14 yr old ‘punish’ a 10yr old? It’s a learning curve on each side for SPL/PL… and younger (Scouts).