When should you say “no”?

yesno_200My wife frequently tells me that I look for ways to say no – that I’m always finding reasons why something can’t be done.

In reality, I’m going through a list of obstacles in my head that need to be overcome in order to turn that no into a yes.

We tend to do the same with our Scouts. They want to go canoeing in the wilderness or hiking in another state. Our first reaction is to say that it would be too much effort, money, time, or any of a dozen other excuses.

We shouldn’t be saying no too quickly. Sure, there are obstacles to almost any venture. An out-of-state trip requires planning, training, money, logistics. None of these are insurmountable.

If the Scouts want to do something, and there is a legitimate Scouting intent in it, there should be no reason to say no.

Scouting should be about yes. We should rarely use no unless it violates the policies or safety rules of the Boy Scouts of America or our chartered organization.

But we don’t automatically need to say yes and take on the responsibility for doing everything they say. If they want to hike the Appalachian Trail, ask them if they know what’s involved, how much it will cost, and what kind of preparation is needed. They can research that for themselves (these days, young people are pretty good at looking things up on the Internet) and find out what sort of commitment they’re willing to make in order for it to happen.

If it is necessary to say no, let the Scouts come to that conclusion. In the case of something that’s prohibited, like hunting or dirt biking, you could ask them if it’s a particularly good idea. Ask about the dangers, and if they think there might be any rules regulating it. See if they’d know where to look, and introduce them to the Guide to Safe Scouting if they don’t know about it already. They’ll pretty soon come to a conclusion on prohibited activities. Likewise, they may decide it’s not worth the effort to organize a trip to Gilwell Park, even if you’re willing to support them.

Yes should be the word of the day – as long as it’s the Scouts saying it.

Image: Stuart Miles / freedigitalphotos.net


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