Re: The Great Basketball Mutiny
Alan Houser (troop24@EMF.NET)
Thu, 12 Jun 1997 10:19:42 -0700
Storms, Randy <rstorms@BHAM.WEDNET.EDU> wrote:
>We are a brand-new troop, and until this week our meetings have gone
>relatively smoothly: Wood Tools, First Aid, and Knots were all well
>received and mostly enjoyed by everyone.
>I was looking forward to last night's meeting, and I spent several hours
>preparing what I thought would be an interesting skill (map and compass)
>followed by a fun activity (The Scout "Beginner's Compass Game", wherein
>you follow a series of compass bearings between marked stakes and gather
>letters to make a "code" word). I arrived early and set it all up, then
>ran a few series myself to ensure everything was correct.
>When the Scouts arrived, all they wanted to do was play basketball.
>They universally rejected the planned program, saying it was "lame".
>They raced around and got wild, and the meeting fell completely apart.
>The ASM said, "Let 'em go play basketball".
>I said, "Let 'em join the Boy's Club if basketball is what they want. I
>am here to teach Scout skills, and they are here to learn them. We
>can schedule basketball for 15 or 20 minutes every few weeks, but I'm
>not going to make it our entire meeting".
>I understand that some activities will always be more popular than
>others, but what do you do when faced with a mass uprising? Do you
>throw away your meeting plan and do what the Scouts want to do? Or do
>you go down with the ship?
The key, as others have pointed out, is that for the Scouts to buy
into the program as planned, they must have a role in the planning
and also the execution of the program.
You don't mention whose plan you were working on, but with a new
troop, I suspect it was the adult leaders. Even with a brand new
troop, you have to involve the boys in the planning, even if it's
just presenting to the Patrol Leaders, "Here are some of the skills
we need to work on. What do you think we should do the first week?",
and so forth.
The second step is to move away from adults doing the training. You
give it away when you say, "I am here to teach them Scout skills."
Once the Patrol Leaders have decided what skills need to be worked on,
they should make assignments for themselves (and other Scouts) to
teach the skills. It may be necessary to teach in advance the Scouts
who will teach the rest of the troop, and remind them that you will
help them with whatever they need, but you won't take their places in
front of the troop or patrol. It is never too soon to introduce
Scouting as it is supposed to be.
In your case, if two of the Scouts had spent that couple of hours
setting up the skills instruction and compass game, how quickly do
you think they would have abandoned it to the basketball court?
A certain amount of flexibility is in order. It is spring, almost
summer. The days are getting longer, school's out. An occasional
night off won't hurt. But back when we were installing the boy-run
concept, I had to remind them, "The adults are not giving up one
night a week to watch you play. We expect that you will be doing
Scouting, so you had better plan some Scouting or we'll call the
meeting and send you home." We never sent them home, but they gave
up 85 minute games squeezed between flag ceremonies, too.
Today, our Scouts are proud of the fact they own the program. The
Scouts who have served on staff various places or who have friends in
other troops know that not all troops are boy-run, and they recognize
the difference. We have an excellent retention rate because our
Scouts have a vested interest in having a good program.
Alan R. Houser ** Scoutmaster, Berkeley Troop 24 ** firstname.lastname@example.org
** WWW page ** http://www.emf.net/~troop24/t24.html **
Scoutmaster, Mt. Diablo Silverado Council Jamboree Troop #637
** http://www.emf.net/~troop24/council/nj-637.html **
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City