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New Parent - Your Role with Scouting
You may be wondering—even a little nervous—about what your role is in Boy Scouting.
Well, your first role in Scouting is simply to continue what you are doing: Be a parent.
Help your son succeed. Be supportive. Follow through. You're here because you see value in the Scouting program.
There will always be times when your son doesn't want to go the weekly meeting or seems to be losing interest in advancing and doing his best in Scouting.That's when he needs a parent's encouragement.
Scouting works best when the whole family is behind it.
And, you're probably dreading the standard call for volunteers that you hear from school.
Well, don't get me wrong -- Scouting operates only because we have great volunteers.
And yes, we hope that you will offer to help out the troop in some way.
Even if you only have a few minutes a month to help us out, we can use you.
But being a Scouting volunteer isn't just another chore you take on because you have to:
"When I first got into Scouting, it was because of my son. I thought it would be a great program for him. What I didn't realize then was what a great program Scouting has been for me. I have met so many great people in Scouting and have made some great friends. It is something I wasn't looking for and didn't expect. I know I'll always be with friends at a Scout meeting or event."
"I don't have a lot of time I can contribute to the troop. But one thing I did sign up for is to be a troop committee member so I can sit on boards of review. Boards of review are like little job interviews, where adult committee members ask the Scouts about their experiences in the troop and what they have learned. It is so rewarding to have a real conversation with those boys."
Regardless of your skills or interests, there is something you share with all Scouting volunteers that makes your involvement priceless—your interest in having your son in the best possible Scouting program.
The Patrol Method - http://www.scoutmastercg.com/2010/10/working-the-patrol-method/
What Adults Do on Scout Campouts
Camping is the heart of Boy Scouting, so please take a few minutes to read this sheet. Boy Scouting is absolutely different from Cub Scouting or Webelos! And while parents (and sometimes whole families) often accompany the Scouts on campouts, the Scouts camp with their patrol and not with their parents and family members.
Here is a summary of our troop (and BSA) policies, followed by the reasoning for the policies. There are exceptions, but these policies are in effect on most outings.
Scout Tenting & Meals—Scouts tent with their patrol in a patrol site separate from the other patrols. Patrols plan their own menus, and cook and eat together as a team. In general, adults do not eat or tent with a boy patrol.
Adult Tenting & Meals—Adults tent with the adult patrol in a patrol site separate from the other patrols. We plan our own menu, and cook and eat together as a team. In general, adults do not eat or tent with a boy patrol.
Adult/Boy Tenting—BSA youth protection policies forbid an adult and a boy sharing the same tent. While youth protection policies may not apply to a father and son tenting together, it is troop policy that boys tent with boys and adults with adults. If a father tents with his son, it has been our experience that the boy will lose out on many opportunities to make decisions and be part of the patrol team! [Yes, you are probably the rare exception, but it wouldn't be fair to the other adults to single you out.]
Smoking/Drinking—Drivers may not smoke while Scouts are in the car. Adults may not smoke or use tobacco products, nor drink alcoholic beverages during a Scout activity. Adults who must smoke or chew must do so discretely out of sight of the Scouts.
Boy Leadership—Adults should not interfere with the functioning of boy leaders, even if they make mistakes (we all learn best from our mistakes). Step in only if it is a matter of immediate safety or if the mistake will be immediately costly. If possible, involve a uniformed adult leader first.
Boy Growth—Never do anything for a boy he can do himself. Let him make decisions without adult interference, and let him make non-costly mistakes.
Adult Training & Resources—The Boy Scouts of America provides an outstanding handbook for adults, and an excellent training course to help us understand the goals of Scouting and how to attain them. The adult manual is called the Scoutmaster Handbook, and it's worth your time to read it. The training is called Scout Leader Basic Training, and is offered in our area twice a year. It's also a good investment of your time. Troop 509 gives our uniformed Scoutmaster and Assistant Scoutmaster's a copy of the Scoutmaster Handbook, and requires that they complete Scout Leader Basic Training. We encourage other adults to follow suit.
Boy Scout camping activities center on the patrol, where boys learn teamwork, leadership, and most camping skills. It is important that adults not be in the middle of patrol activities such as site selection, tent pitching, meal preparation, and anything else where boys get to practice decision-making.
A key difference between Boy Scouting and Cub Scouting/Webelos is leadership. Look for the word "leader" in a job title, and you will begin to appreciate the difference. The responsible person for a Cub/Webelos den is the adult Den Leader. The responsible person for a Boy Scout patrol is the boy Patrol Leader.
This isn't token leadership (like a denner). A Patrol Leader has real authority and genuine responsibilities. Much of the success, safety, and happiness of six to ten other boys depends directly on him.
Boy Scouting teaches leadership. And boys learn leadership by practicing it, not by watching adults lead.
So what do we adults do, now that we've surrendered so much direct authority to boys? Here are our troop's guidelines on the indirect, advisory role you now enjoy (no kidding, you should enjoy watching your son take progressively more mature and significant responsibilities as he zooms toward adulthood).
The underlying principle is never do anything for a boy that he can do himself. We allow boys to grow by practicing leadership and by learning from their mistakes. And while Scout skills are an important part of the program, what ultimately matters when our Scouts become adults is not whether they can use a map & compass, but whether they can offer leadership to others in tough situations; and can live by a code that centers on honest, honorable, and ethical behavior.
Boys need to learn to make decisions without adult intervention (except when it's a matter of immediate safety). Boys are in a patrol so they can learn leadership and teamwork without adult interference.
Being an adult adviser is a difficult role, especially when we are advising kids (even worse, our own sons). Twice each year, the Boy Scouts of America offers special training on how to do this, which we expect our uniformed adults to take. And any adult is welcome—and encouraged—to take the training (see the Scoutmaster).
If a parent goes on a campout, you are an automatic member of our "Geezers" (adult) patrol. This patrol has several purposes—good food and camaraderie (of course), but more important is providing an example the boy patrols can follow without our telling them what to do (we teach by example). Since a patrol should camp as a group, we expect the "Geezers" to do so also; that way, adults don't tent in or right next to a boy patrol where your mere presence could disrupt the learning process.
Quite simply, our troop policy requires adults to cook, eat, and tent separately from the Scouts (even dads & sons). We are safely nearby, but not smotheringly close. Sure, go ahead and visit the patrol sites (not just your son's), talk to your son (and the other Scouts), ask what's going on or how things are going. But give the guys room to grow while you enjoy the view. Show a Scout how to do something, but don't do it for him. Avoid the temptation to give advice, and don't jump in just to prevent a mistake from happening (unless it's serious). We all learn best from our mistakes. And let the patrol leader lead.
Your job is tough, challenging, and ultimately rewarding, because your son will be a man the day after tomorrow.
Original created by: Troop 97, Fort Collins, Colorado.
Lessons and Suggestions on Boy-Run troops
Lessons and Suggestions on Boy-Run troops
(Excerpts from "Boy Run Troops Part II" by Barry Runnels, edited by Chuck Boblitz)
While scouting is for boys, it is under the guidance of adults. The adult's control 100% of the direction of the Troop, and it is their responsibility to develop a boy-run program. This may seem complicated but it really isn't. Guidance, Vigilance from a distance, Patience, Understanding the boys point of view, Trust in your skills as a trained leader, Trust in the Boy Scout program as it was designed by the BSA, and Trust in the boys themselves, are the 7 keys for adults helping to foster a Boy Run Troop.
Here are some habits that help a troop grow towards a boy run program.
- No matter what his age or experience; the SPL runs the troop meetings. Adults should, ideally, be outside the room. Several times adults of new troops have told me they will wait until the scouts are mature enough to take responsibility to run meetings before they let the SPL plan and run it. But all scouts to some degree can run a meeting. The sooner your program starts developing the habits of a boy run program, the faster everyone learns how to make changes towards a boy run program.
- It's not the job of the adults to take the responsibility for the scouts, but to guide the scouts in their responsibilities. The more the adults take responsibility for troop management, the harder it becomes for them to hand that responsibility back to the scouts, and it takes all that much longer for the scouts become accustomed to shouldering this responsibility.
- The PLC and SM must look at troop activities, situations, and meetings and ask, "If the adults weren't here, could this part of the program still run with only the scouts?". When you say no, it's time for the SM to work with the PLC to develop habits that would bring the troop to that point. It's a slow process--solid boy-run programs take months and years to develop, not days or weeks.
- The SPL runs the Troop, so there is no reason for an adult to assume the role for any reason. Any concerns by adults should be addressed through the SM and SPL. Adults are allowed to guide, to suggest, to coach--but not to do scouts' jobs for them. It's very difficult for adults to keep from helping scouts (out of a sincere desire to be helpful and friendly).
- All behaviors, good and bad, are the scout's responsibility. Most boy-run programs have very few behavior problems where adults need to get involved. That's because each scout is held responsible by all the other scouts. Until safety becomes an issue, the PLC should be held responsible for taking care of bad behavior. The PLC should also report misbehavior to the SM so he can talk with the scout if needed. That is one of the Scoutmaster's jobs. Bad behavior should be seen as an indicator of a scout needing guidance. Too many adults see bad behavior as an embarrassment of their program, rather than a part of the program--but if scouts were perfect, why would we need the Oath & Law? Adults must be passive in their guidance, but fearless in their objectives.
- Adults should never lead a group of scouts. I am always amazed watching adults lead their troop around at summer camps and camporees. Scouts are the leaders, let them lead. I can't imagine anytime where the adults should take the lead. If you can't trust the scouts, then something needs to change. The adults' place is well behind the scouts. (I am also amazed at summer camp when I see troops that don't trust their scouts to get to merit badge classes without adult guidance).
There are some clear signs of when adults are over-involved in running the troop:
- All scouts are dressed perfectly. While I am sure there are some good boy run Troops with all the scouts in perfect uniform, I have not met one yet. I am using the uniform as an example here, but it can be anything where adults force the scouts to conform as a group when the scouts don't understand. From the adult's perspective, a boy run program is where each scout is guided individually, not as a group. What we adults need to understand is that every boy growing up questions the logic of many things that don't make since to him, especially at this age. A scout may rebel against the norm to force some kind of response because they he doesn't know any other way. Adults in boy run programs should not force a scout back to the norm, but instead guide his understanding of the situation so that he voluntarily changes. Usually when we understand a logical purpose for anything, we voluntarily conform to it. If the reason for the situation is not logical, then maybe it's time for the adults to consider change. I have always challenged my PLC's that if I can't identify how a part of our program helps build better habits and character, I will throw it out. Only pride could get in the way of making changes. It's the scouts program; they should be allowed to ask questions. The troop should be a safe place to do that.
- Adults who stand with scouts or in front of scouts during activities are usually a sign of a more adult run Troop. The Boy run program works well because the struggle of leading, planning and managing the Troop naturally motivates a scout to seek out knowledge to stop the struggle or failure. For that to work, adults must stand out of the way of the scouts. Let the scout make the mistakes, take the wrong trails, cook food wrong and so on. Some of the worst examples of adult run that I have seen in our Troop are High Adventure Treks. An inexperienced adult often thinks he knows more than the inexperienced boys do.
- A troop focuses on advancement, to the exclusion of other elements of the program. Adults are afraid to fail, afraid to get hurt. They are also protective by nature against their children's suffering. Because of these reasons, adults sometimes tend to push advancement within a troop program, because it's safe. Earning patches is a relatively low-risk way to achieve self-confidence and stature. But without real challenges and real risk of failure, awards lose their meaning.
- A troop focuses on outings, to the exclusion of advancement and leadership. Here too, adults are afraid to fail, afraid to get hurt. They are also protective by nature against their children's suffering the loss of FUN time. Because of these reasons, adults sometimes tend to push for outings only within a troop program, because it's fun. Having the adults Plan and execute the outings is a relatively low-risk way to achieve full control by the adults since they become the center of attention for all of the fun stuff. This is great for Adult Egos but not the Boys Egos. Without the true challenge presented by having the boys plan and execute the events, and the real risk of failure, troop outings lose their meaning. When the scouts are not provided the opportunity to plan and work their own advancement trail with guidance from troop members and adult Scouters, the feelings of achievement, and success are lost too.
- Watch for these other signs of adults taking over the program:
Who sets the time to wake up or lights out, adults or scouts?
Who picks the places to set up the tents, tarps and eating area?
Who sets up the times to eat, and program activities?
Who loads the Troop trailer, and who says when it's time to go?
Who counts the scouts in the cars to make sure everyone is there?
Who decides what kind of camping gear the troop should buy?
Who decides when it's time to go home from the campout?
Having a boy-run program is simply giving boys trust to manage their activities and actions in the troop. Imagine everything you the scouts to do without them standing in the room. That could be as little as just saying the pledge of allegiance, or as much as letting the SPL run the whole Troop meeting. Imagine a circle defining that area of trust. That circle is your boy run program. The area outside the circle is the area where the scouts grow in their struggle, and we adults grow in our trust that the scouts can manage their actions without our guidance.
That circle is worth little if its limits never expand or grow. We adults must push the limits of the circle so the boys grow in their ability to manage life's skills. This takes courage from the scouts, to keep trying and learn from new experiences. It also takes courage from the adults to let the scouts go beyond their limits (our limits!) so they struggle in their troop responsibilities and become motivated to learn the skills to ease their struggle.
An adult-run troop is not necessarily one with a small circle of trust. An adult-run troop is one where the adults are not comfortable allowing the circle to grow, because they are afraid of failure.
Allowing our boys to struggle in their activities is not natural for a parent. We want to make it easier even up to the point of holding their hands. But our scouts are young men on the verge of being sent out into an unforgiving world. Scouting is where they will learn the skills of men in a safe and controlled environment.
Your goal should be that every scout and every adult goes home saying, "I like Myself when I am with the Troop".
Teach the adults how to watch and recognize the moments when the earth moves. You know, when the young scout's eyes get big because he figured out how to tie a knot. Those times when the Patrol all of a sudden acts like a patrol instead of animals scurrying around. The day the SPL runs the perfect PLC meeting or the Troop meeting goes off without a hitch. I remember once when an ASM and I watch the Troop break camp and load the trailer in 30 minutes. It was perfect. We looked at each other and said, well it's time to raise the bar on breaking camp, but we were smiling at the moment.
A boy run program requires a lot of work from both the adults and scouts, but the rewards are worth bragging about. For the Troop to be successful, both the adults and scouts have to grow in the program. Real growth is slow and unexpected. One day you are looking at a confused boy wondering how he can manage his Patrol of yelling, rambunctious boys. Then it seems like all of a sudden, a much taller version of the same scout is inviting you to attend his Eagle COH. "How in the world?" you wonder. But while we give all the credit to the will of a boy, let's give a little credit to the adults who had the courage to stand up and get out of his way.
Here's another article that I really liked. It talks about what I'm actively working on and how I view things also. -- Gene
Transition from Adult to Youth Leadership - What Really Matters
Advancement in Ranks, earning Merit badges, and making Eagle recognize that Scouts have passed through a number of challenges and experiences. As laudable as they are the results are not an end in themselves, Scouting is all about the process that leads to them.
Scouts will learn some useful skills but these are not the whole story. What they really take away from the experience is confident self knowledge and the ability to work well with other people. Focus on creating and preserving an atmosphere where the Scouts can have these experiences. Pretend for a moment that there re no badges, no awards, no recognitions and concentrate on the experience that Scouts are having, the process they are going through.
You will fear, as I did, that the Scouts will not do a very good job of things. The Scouts will probably do some things poorly. This will lead to a sense that you are somehow letting the other Scouts down if you don't step in and do it better. This sense of responsibility may cause some real frustration, but your sense of responsibility is misplaced.
I have watched Troop meetings that, in my humble opinion, were very poorly planned and presented; ones that the adults could have done much better. I have worried that the Scouts have not prepared themselves properly for outings and wondered if we should step in. Even if Scouts have conducted what I may see as lackluster troop meetings and planned what I may consider ill-conceived outings what is truly important is that they have done this under their own leadership. They are doing and learning things that that their peers outside of Scouting do not.
The Scoutmaster's direct responsibility is not the quality of the program, not the number of advancements or the number of Scouts but to inspire his youth leadership towards achieving these things. That's what really matters.
A lesson from the Pinewood Derby
There are three basic types of Pinewood Derby cars. The first is the type that a Cub builds completely on his own; the blotchy paint, the uneven wheels, the decals. The second shows a lot of his own work but also has some refinements that indicate he had some help. The third is one he watched someone else make for him.
Your Troop will be some combination of the first two types. Scout-made and Scout-run with an appropriate level of assistance. Maybe not the slickest one on the track but one that inspires admiration for the Scouts that created it.
Hi all. I just read this from one of the Scout discussion boards and thought it was a good explanation of what I'm also trying to do. The explanation below is also how I've planed on doing Scoutmaster Conferences. I fully agree with the writer below on his opinion of the later advancements. This is a big focus for me and thought I would share my vision with you all. Advancement (Merit Badges) are all an fine and dandy but it is how we help prepare our boys to become responsible, participating citizens and leaders who are guided by the Scout Oath and Law that is really important to me. And as such, as the boysrise in rank (and age) this becomes more and more vital.
Sent: Wed, 25 Mar 2009 7:19 am
Subject: Re: Scoutmaster Conferences
Scout Master conferences for earlier ranks (Scout, TenderFoot, Second Class)
are more about fitting into the
troop, understanding how Boy Scouts works, how well the meetings are run
etc. For first class on up, there's a shift in my SM conferences. The
focus of SM conferences moves to role modeling, leadership and scout spirit.
The higher ranked older scouts set the tone for the troop and so you need
to ensure the right model is being presented. I explain that their next
advancements are not about achieving more merit badges, and service hours
.... but rather are mostly about role modeling, scout spirit, and showing
leadership. I explicitly remind them of what is meant by good scout spirit,
explain that the troop will only work if they show scout spirit, and so
their next promotions depend on their scout spirit. For most boys, this is
a simple reminder, but occasionally I'll move closer to a threat/promise
regarding their eligibility for promotion. FWIW, the advancement chair
completely agrees, so the BOR sings exactly the same tune.
Of course, there's still the standard SM conf. stuff as well, but I wanted
to focus on the scout spirit/leadership aspect for higher ranks.
I found this quote and fully believe this. One of the main goals I have is to help our
boys realize that this is true. To make them aware of what
they are saying when they say "On my honor I will do my best"
The content of your character is your choice. ... Day by day, what you do is
who you become. Your integrity is your destiny — it is the light that guides
your way. – Heraclitus
I would like all my leaders to understand what my vision is. It is how we, as
leaders, present ourselves that define our troop both in history and as a destiny.
It is our leaders who are beacon for the troop.
The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and
moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.