SM Minute? Challenge? Junior Leadership - How Do You Make It Work?
Michael F. Bowman (mfbowman@USSCOUTS.ORG)
Thu, 3 Sep 1998 20:50:14 -0400
A few weeks ago a friend from another Council was chatting with me about
his Troop and was upset that the Patrol Leader's Council wasn't doing
anything at all and looking for advice on how to "kick-start them into
action." I asked a little about what had been going on in the Troop
over the past year or so. Turns out that they had a Scoutmaster that
ran, and I mean ran, everything. He personally planned and executed
every activity. Apparently he was afraid that the boys wouldn't have a
perfect Scouting experience unless he took care of everything. The end
result was that the patrol leaders and SPL learned that it was best not
to do anything.
Yesterday, Chuck Bramlet shared the following scaring piece with me:
____forwarded message with headers removed_____
Start with a cage containing five apes. In the cage, hang a banana
on a string and put stairs under it. Before long, an ape will go to
the stairs and start to climb towards the banana. As soon as he
touches the stairs, spray ALL of the apes with cold water. After a
while, another ape makes an attempt with the same result - ALL the
apes are sprayed with cold water.
Continue until another ape tries to climb the stairs. The other apes
will try to prevent it. Now turn off the cold water. Remove one ape
from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new ape sees the
banana and wants to climb the stairs. To his horror, all of the other
apes attack him.
After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb
the stairs, he will be assaulted.
Next, remove another of the original five apes and replace it with a
The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous new-
comer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm. Again, replace a
third original with a new one. The new one makes it to the stairs and
is attacked as well.
Two of the four apes that beat him have no idea why they were not per-
mitted to climb the stairs or why they are participating in the beating
of the newest ape.
After replacing the fourth and fifth original apes, all the apes which
have been sprayed with cold water have been replaced. Nevertheless, no
ape ever again approaches the stairs. Why not? Because that's the way
it's always been around here.
That's how mental slavery begins.....
____end of forwarded message_____
Sometimes life is like that. You talk about something and then see a
story that sort of fits. Reading the story, I have to wonder what we
can learn from it.
When we pour cold water on a boy's enthusiasm or deprive him of an
opportunity to grow by doing for him, what he could do on his own, are
we teaching him the same lesson as the apes learned from their perverse
keeper? And if we keep it up long enough, do we end up with a situation
where the boys just don't want to be junior leaders and nobody can
figure out why.
I'd be interested in hearing your suggestions for tried and true
techniques for helping to develop healthy junior leaders in your unit.
What works? What doesn't?
Michael F. Bowman --- Professor Beaver NE-CS-41
Speaking only for myself in the Scouting Spirit
from Alexandria, Virginia - email@example.com
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City