Charles Schmidt (schmidt@UNIX1.IS.TCU.EDU)
Wed, 8 Jun 1994 10:03:44 CDT
As a newcomer to the group, I am reluctant to be too controversial, but
hey, that's the way I am sometimes. With this inclination explained, I
would like to offer a slightly different point of view in the matter of
training scouters who have just moved from the rank of the "boys" at 17
years and 364 days to the "adults" at 18 (or even 21, though the point
is less clear at that age).
As a frequent staff member of scoutmastership fundamentals training and
in my two experiences on Woodbadge staff, I am uncomfortable, at best,
with the idea of these new scouters joining in the established training
program for adults. I have been on staff when a new, 18 year old
assistant scoutmaster took the scoutmastership fundamentals course, and
believe it was not appropriate.
One of the methods of training, at least here, is to role play a scout
troop with the learners taking on the role of the boys. In woodbadge,
many of the adults REALLY get into this role, though unintentionally. I
have heard 40 and 50 year olds comment that they had KP for the last two
meals and it isn't fair and they aren't going to do it again until so
and so does his share. What is more boy-like than that? In the SM
Fundamentals, more inane boy-stuff goes on (flag stealing and the like).
There-in lies one of the problems. The 18 year old isn't playing boy in
these situations; he is too close to the reality and tends to go
overboard. The result is often resentment by the older participants.
Likewise, once into the adult role, the 18 year old can easily take
himself too seriously. While my example may have been a special case,
he tended to ask too many naive or trivial questions, and tried to
answer every rhetorical question asked. His fellow patrol members
tolerated him with good spirits, but the rest of the participants tended
to feel quite negative about him.
The bottom line of this situation is that most (certainly not all) of
these young men have not developed the maturity to be in the established
training courses with a large group of older adults. The end result is
more likely to be harmful than helpful. (I am guilty of gross
generalization in this analysis, but I hope the point is not obscured).
The new ASM at 18 has the potential to be a very valuable leader, but he
cannot be treated like any other leader (most of whom have children
nearly the age of this neophyte scouter). Perhaps there should be a
special training course developed to address this age group.
I know that there are some participants in this duscussion in the age group
in question, and I assure you I mean no offense. You are scouting's future,
and your enthusiasm and interest are a delightful addition to the program.
Hang in there and do what interests you. But don't be in a hurry - you have
a lifetime of scouting to look forward to.
Scoutmaster, Troop 64
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City