Whose advancement is it, anyway?

firstclass+calendar_200A friend in a nearby troop sent me the following:

I was talking with a former Scoutmaster of our troop about how we have some Second-Class and Tenderfoot Scouts who would like to take part in a high adventure activity offered by our council which permits only First-Class Scouts and above. He mentioned:

“If we move the younger Scouts to First Class, they can go on the hike as crew members. In the past, the assistant Scoutmasters and I kept a list of the requirements each boy needed so when we met with the PLC we could help them decide what skills the troop should focus on in meetings and campouts. The boys didn’t know about the list, but it was helpful because of our aim to help the Scouts make First Class in the first year.”

This sounds like a good idea. It would help get them to First Class faster and let them experience our high adventure trek. What do you think?

Continue reading “Whose advancement is it, anyway?”

Placing process before results

checklist_200A smooth-running troop is the dream of every Scoutmaster. Every Scout doing what he should do, youth leaders firmly in charge, and the senior patrol leader taking direction from the Scoutmaster and leading the other youth.

Most troops don’t fit that image, however. Patrols seem to vary from adequately prepared to barely functioning. It can be frustrating for a Scoutmaster to not see the Scouts getting anything done.

The same can apply to the troop committee. You see committee members not doing things the way you’d do them. You’re tempted to micromanage or just do things yourself.

When this happens, it’s time to step back and understand the real aim and the best approach to let the process take its course, rather than trying to fret about the end result. Continue reading “Placing process before results”

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″

The role of “other” adults, part 1

adultcampfire_200Nearly all of us grew up with our sons in Scouting, starting first with Cub Scouts. We remember the pleas for help from the Cub parents. You were always in need of a parent to head up the next outing or field trip or make a run to the Scout shop or work at the popcorn sale table at the supermarket this weekend. Cub Scouts doesn’t run without heavy parent involvement, so we get somewhat accustomed to feeling the need for lots of parental help and missing it when it isn’t there.

So naturally, when our sons cross over to a troop, those of us who are committed to the program step forward and volunteer for an adult role. Continue reading “The role of “other” adults, part 1″