One of the greatest virtues of the Scouting program is that it teaches young people how to solve problems in real time with the resources they have at their disposal. They’re not usually major problems – at least not to us, but to the Scouts, they can befuddle and confuse until they set themselves in the right direction.
I recently read an article by Tommy Gray, CPBE, in a broadcast engineering trade magazine. We broadcast engineers often face puzzling problems that need to be resolved quickly. Gray offered the advice that you are never totally down if you use your head. There are three things to keep in mind, in his “Engineering Recovery Philosophy”. These are:
- Start where you are
- Use what you have
- Do what you can!
Coupled with Baden-Powell’s admonition (our motto) to Be Prepared (for any old thing, he elaborated), these three steps can be a powerful aid to setting your mind straight amid a setback or a conundrum.
It’s not possible to be prepared for every “any old thing,” but you and your Scouts can be reasonably well prepared. Part of this process is the collective learning that has taken place through the life of the troop. Along the way, issues may crop up – tents that start to leak, stoves that won’t light – issues that Scouts who have been around for a while may have encountered and learned how to overcome.
For a new-Scout patrol, a sudden rain shower that drenches outerwear prompts discovery of a way to dry jackets, and a clothesline gets put up. The quartermaster thought ahead to bring the rope and knowing the proper knots to use allowed the Scouts to string a clothesline between the trees.
They followed the three-step recovery philosophy without even realizing it: They started where they were (wet clothes), used what they had (trees and rope) and did what they could (put up a clothesline).
Taking it a step further, the committee can use the three steps as a way to help themselves over obstacles. From finding people to do important functions to finding ways to carry out the Scouts’ plans, having the available resources in mind and at hand is key to resolving your problems.
When a problem crops up or there’s a task to do, start where you are. Use what you have – knowledge, tools resources – and do what you are able to do (this means asking others for help too), and you’ll find you have a grip on the situation.
Image: zdiviv / freedigitalphotos.net