Re: A new kind of Pack
Ian N Ford FRSH (addvent@DIRCON.CO.UK)
Thu, 27 Nov 1997 20:07:19 +0000
I am Special Needs Adviser for Greenwich district in SE London and also a
Trainer for Channel District, Transatlantic Council BSA. My advice would
be to get someone with experience of working with kids with emotional and
behavioural problems, because I bet you will have a few. <g> Find out
what strategies the community uses and try to follow them, but equally
don't get to the point where the kids feel that every thing they do at
Scouts will be reported back to their houseparents.
I would strongly suggest that you should find someone to support and
counsel your volunteers. This could be your Unit Commissioner, or maybe
someone with experience of social work supervision. If not there is a
risk of emotional burnout working with problem kids.
This is not in any way trying to discourage you ... it sounds like a
great idea, I just wish we had something similar in my district.
Encourage your new pack and troop to participate in district events and
carry out joint activities with other units.
I don't know how much support you will get from the community home, but
it would be good if you could provide each kid with a new uniform, or at
least a new shirt. This is a self-esteem thing - about sewing your first
rank on a new shirt. ( If possible get the houseparents to help the kids
to sew the patch on themselves ! ) Encourage uniforming to foster a good
spirit but don't be too fussy about the details.
Listen to the kids ... they probably need it more than most. Most of the
kids who end up " in care " feel disempowered because other people make
major decisions about their lives with little consultation. If Scouting
can give them room to grow and make their mistakes it is a positive
contribution. Aim for a boy-run troop and a boy-consulting pack from
the word go.
Remember the " safe haven " principle ... establish from the word go that
we care for each other, we don't tolerate bullying, name-calling or
put-downs. Get the BOYS to work out the ground rules so they take
ownership. You are stating you new unit's traditions. What you do is
" the way it has always been done " so try to get it right from the word
go, but be prepared to accept that you may have gotten it wrong.
Be prepared to admit it when your leaders get something wrong. All too
often I have seen adults who make a decision which they realise was not
quite right, but who are afraid that if they change their mind they will
be " backing down " or " losing face " in front of the kids. If the kids
that you stand by what you genuinely feel to be right , but are prepared
to negotiate on areas that ought to be negotiable you will earn their
Hope that helps ...
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City