Get off your high horse

highhorseWhen I started as the committee chair of our troop, one of the things that went through my mind was how many things I’d need to be responsible for. I had a pretty good handle on advancement (or so I thought), matters of finance and the rules of safety and youth protection. But what about the outdoor program? Camping equipment? High adventure?

Sooner or later, I learned that I didn’t need to know every nuance and detail of those subjects, because we had other volunteers who had the know-how to take care of them. I relied on them for a basic understanding of their areas, and let them do what was needed without any interference.

A committee chair who views himself or herself as the ultimate expert on every aspect of troop operations is fooling himself and shortchanging those around him. Continue reading “Get off your high horse”

A leader we can learn from

Steve Kerr

The Golden State Warriors won the championship of the National Basketball Association this week. The team is led by an experienced basketball man – as a player, general manager and television commentator – but a rookie coach. Steve Kerr, in his first coaching assignment, took on a different style of leadership than those he played under or worked with, and certainly different from most of what we imagine a “head coach” to be. And he achieved not only something that is difficult but rare – guiding his team into winning a championship his first time ever as a coach.

Kerr, profiled this week in the Washington Post, didn’t consider himself to be the most important person on the Warriors’ squad. Continue reading “A leader we can learn from”

Why keep score?

scoreboard_200The game of Scouting that we play is indeed a game. We hope that our boys are having fun, and one of the best ways to have fun is to play a game. William “Green Bar Bill” Hillcourt was the first to describe Scouting as a game with a purpose.

Most games we play have winning as the desired outcome. In order to determine a winner, a metric is needed: the score. Indeed, virtually every game – from sports to darts to cards – has a means of scoring the outcome. The football coach Vince Lombardi was the one who famously pondered:

If winning isn’t everything, why do they keep the score?

The boys playing the game enjoy keeping track of how they’re doing, whether they are playing a sports contest, engaged in a robotics or debate competition, or playing the game of Scouting. Continue reading “Why keep score?”

Boys or Scouts?

BoyScoutsWe sometimes use the terms interchangeably. We have a boy-led troop with boy-led patrols. They read Boys’ Life. “Never do anything a boy can do” is a key piece of advice, and Baden-Powell made frequent references such as “The Scoutmaster teaches boys to play by doing so himself” and “The boy is not governed by don’t, but is led by do.”

It is the Boy Scouts of America, after all. Our constituency is overwhelmingly young men – boys – and we frequently think of them as such. However, when it comes to dealing with them in the context of Scouting, it helps to think of them with higher expectations than merely “boy”. Continue reading “Boys or Scouts?”

How to help young leaders grow

mechanics-fourstepsOne of the most fascinating and fulfilling things about being part of the Scouting movement is watching our young people grow and develop as individuals, team members and leaders.

Every time I sit on a board of review (as I did for two new Eagle Scouts last week), I’m reminded that, in one way or another, the adults of our troop helped these young men grow. We did it, not by doing for them, but helping them see what’s important and how to handle it when they see it. Continue reading “How to help young leaders grow”