What are you clinging to?

balloons_200Talking with the Cubmaster at a Blue & Gold banquet recently, I found out that her son is crossing into Boy Scouts this spring. In fact, he (and she) have already been on a campout of the troop that he is joining. Among other tales of the adventure that lies across the bridge, I gently advised her to quell the urge to do things that the boys should be doing. She had heard that before – from the Scoutmaster. On the campout, she thought it would be helpful if she’d wipe down the table after the patrol had lunch, whereupon the Scoutmaster reminded her that it was the boys’ job to do that – not the adults’. So she called her son over and told him to do it, and learned the next part – it’s not the adults’ job to direct the Scouts, but that they’re led by their own leaders.

There’s a lot to learn when an adult follows his or her son into a troop. Continue reading “What are you clinging to?”

The Marshmallow Test

marsh_200If someone set a marshmallow in front of you, would you eat it?

If that person told you that if you didn’t eat it, but watched it for 15 minutes, they’d give you another marshmallow. Would you eat it or wait?

Now imagine you’re a kid. Do you think you’d have the patience to wait 15 minutes? Think of how much longer 15 minutes seems like to a child than it does to us.

You’ve probably heard of the psychology experiment conducted by Stanford professor Walter Mischel in the 1960s. Continue reading “The Marshmallow Test”

How do I quell a parent revolt?

angry_parents_200Has this ever happened to you?

The following question was posted on one of the Scouting forums in the last few weeks. I thought it was an interesting conundrum and offered my comments. Since it’s unfortunately not an uncommon situation, maybe you can relate. I’ll paraphrase:

Last month at the troop committee meeting, I [a Scoutmaster] was told that “this boy-led thing” was not working. I was hurt and disappointed in the boys. The parents thought the boys chose their leaders poorly at the previous election, and they want a major overhaul. I’m not sure we did the right thing, but we had two boys express interest in being senior patrol leader. The assistant Scoutmasters and I picked between the two and chose a tenth grader as the new SPL.. We let him pick his staff down to the patrol leaders and assistant patrol leaders. The boy we chose believes in the patrol method and wants to continue to develop it. I think.he has chosen a good staff, but the parents are still calling for changes. What do you do to quell a parent revolt?

Continue reading “How do I quell a parent revolt?”

The role of “other” adults, part 2

sm_parentsWhen I first volunteered with the troop committee, there was a lot of interaction between the Scouts and adults on campouts. At one low point in our membership (a trend that was not surprising in retrospect), we had nearly as many adults as Scouts going camping. Why not? – the adults enjoyed camping as much as the boys did. However, the adults didn’t exactly leave the boys alone. In fact, on many campouts the boys asked the adults to do the cooking (and the adults agreed – especially the Scoutmaster). I’ll say we had some delicious meals, but that’s not the point, at least for the Scouts. We’d get to camp and the adults would be barking orders at the Scouts to get the dining flies and tents set up over there, and would jump in and do it for them if they were having trouble. Hikes were nearly always led by the Scoutmaster or an assistant (as in the movie Follow Me Boys or any of a dozen other stereotypes). Adults often fiddled with the menus the boys drew up (even making the menu occasionally themselves), taught Scout skills, built fires, and got on the boys to clean up. It’s no wonder I was conflicted about the way I saw things unfolding versus the way I had heard it was supposed to be. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was a classic sign of untrained adult leadership. Continue reading “The role of “other” adults, part 2″