Re: Checking out Scout Troops (fwd)
Thu, 17 Oct 1996 17:54:14 -0400
Kim Moye writes:
> What made the boys decide they did not want to join this troop was
> the fact that boys get "demerits" for misconduct. If they get x
> number of demerits, they are not allowed to participate in the
> upcoming troop events such as camping, field trips, etc.
> ...demerits for talking and not paying attention seems harsh.
Bob Amick replies:
> This seems to be a holdover "negative reinforcement philosophy"
> from "days gone by" that a few troop leaders seem to still embrace.
> More "enlightened" contemporary troops have replaced this with a
> positive approach, and I think you will find that those are the
> troops that your Scouts will enjoy the most.
Actually, the positive approach in Scouting that Bob contrasts so well
with the negative reinforcement boys find in schools is not some new break
with the tradition of Scouting.
In January, 1916 Baden-Powell wrote in The Scouter:
"Dr. Montessori has proved that by encouraging a child in its natural
desires, instead of instructing it in what you think it ought to do, you
can educate it on a much more solid and far-reaching basis. It is only
tradition and custom that ordain that education should be a labour, and
that as such it is good training for the child in discipline and
"One of the original objects of Scouting For Boys was to break through
this tradition and to show that, by giving attractive pursuits to the
young, one could lead them to develop for themselves the essentials of
character, health, and handiness....
"The main step to success is to develop, not to repress, the child's
character, and at the same time, above all, not to nurse him. He wants to
be *doing* things, therefore encourage him to do them in the right
direction, and let him do them in his own way. Let him make his mistakes;
it is by these that he learns experience.
"Education must be positive, not negative--active, not passive. For
example, the Scout Law in each of its details says: "A Scout does" --this,
that or the other.
"Authorities have come along to improve the Scout Law, and not recognising
the active side of it, have changed it to the reverse--a series of
"Don'ts." "Don't," of course, is the distinguishing feature and motto of
the old-fashioned system of repression, and is a red rag to a boy . It is
a challenge to him to do wrong."
All of us know Scouters who are hostile to the Spirit of Scouting. They
dismiss their training saying that it is "impractical," or for some "ideal
troop." The more they punish the boys by withholding camping, the worse
the boys behave until they quit in disgust. I only wish that it was a
relic from "days gone by!"
Kim's Scouts are lucky they recognize bad leadership so quickly.
ASM, Troop 108
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City