Scouts-L Mail Archive for May of 1999: Boy-run in a *young* troop
Boy-run in a *young* troop
Fri, 30 Apr 1999 11:45:04 -0600
>I'd like to get some ideas on how to implement the boy-run concept in a
>troop that's little more than a year old, one in which boys' ages range
>from 10.5 to 13 years old. The leadership skills of most will need some
>work, and some are downright reluctant to lead.
Boy Run is relative to the average of the Scouts in the Troop and their
experience. Obviously a 12 year old SPL doesn't have the same maturity and
experience of the 15 year SPL. Most important to a boy run program is build
trust between the boys and adults as quick as possible. The advantage of boy run
is the Scouts learn from their activities quicker because they feel responsible
for their actions. Problem many new Troops have with boy run performance is the
adults assume the Scouts can't do it, so the adults take over. Loading the Troop
trailer is a perfect example. There is no reason why a 12 year Quartermaster
shouldn't be in charge of loading the Troop trailer. Once learned, it is a
simple repeatable task where a boy feels very proud of his results. Many adults
don't trust a boy to direct this simple task and push the Scouts aside.
It's very important that the Troop establish the boy run method as soon as
possible because it takes a long time (years) for both the adults and Scouts to
trust each other. We still struggle to not take over when the Scouts just seem
to stop and assume the adults will take over.
Nnew Troop adults need to learn when to step in and when to allow the Scout to
continue their struggle. You have to make yourself let the Scouts do their job
or task. However, the young Scouts don't always know how to do it and the adults
have to learn when is the right time to step in and adivse. If you step in to
early, the Scout learns the adults will take over when he sees you can't do the
task. If you step in to late, then the Scout my have a negative learning
experience and start disliking the program. I had a 12 year old SPL break down
to tears on the last night of summer camp because the stress of running the
Troop all week was to much. I felt really bad because I didn't see coming. He
looks back at that camp as very hard work with no fun. I try to intercede
quicker now if I see them get stressed out. That happen at our night camporee
last weekend. The Scout running the camporee did great and worked very hard all
week. But when the rain came and we had to cancel a couple of events. He locked
up. He was to tired to figure out how to change the program. We stepped in and
gave a little (very little) advice to work around the problems. He saw some
ideas, called the group together and proceeded with as good program as the
weather would allow. I don't think he even realized we helped him through his
problem. Hard to know when to intercede. I think three years ago I would have
jumped in to early and helped to much.
Adults will have to step in earlier for the young Scouts than the older ones.
Let him flounder to the point that he is grateful for the advice but still wants
to lead, don't jump in so early that he didn't see the problem coming. We had a
young 12 year old SPL who didn't know how to stop the Troop from getting to loud
and eventually out of control. One day the SM was gone and one of our ASMs
couldn't stand it any longer. He walked in, told the Scouts shut up and preceded
to lecture on first-aid. The next meeting the SPL had the same problem but this
time the ASM was gone. We let the SPL struggle to the point of feeling lost then
stepped close enough that he asked for help. We gave him some ideas of how to
control the meeting and then we stepped back. He never had trouble after that.
But he needed to see the problem before he was willing to accept and learn from
the guidance. The adults needed to allow him to struggle and only give advise to
the SPL instead of taking over the SPL's leadership position. The boys need to
trust the adults will advise but not take over.
It's not easy and many times the adults will wait to late or jump in to early.
Adults hate to see their kids struggle, but it's part of life. Actually you will
find the Scouts like struggling. Maybe not during the struggle, but afterwards
when they see their accomplishes. As the Scouts get older, you will be impressed
how quickly they learn to accept responsibility and take charge. Eventually the
adults will have nothing to do except act as the role models. The Scouts can do
Adults need lots of patience. Nothing gets me angrier faster than an adult who
takes over because the Scouts don't go at the adults speed. I saw a Troop loose
a whole group of visiting Webelos because the ASM got impatient with SPL who
wasn't tying lashings fast enough. He yelled at the SPL, pushed him aside and
finished the demo. The Webelos parents were not impressed. My heart went out for
The more I do this, the more I find myself as a cheerleader which is much more
fun. I encourage you to step back, but it is hard, it's very hard. When you do,
you will be amazed at what the boys can do. They will knock your socks, truly.
You have to allow them to do that so they can impress themselves and build that
self-respect part of the Aims of Scouting. When your Troop starts doing this,
watch out because it will grow faster than a den of rabbits. Leading a boy run
Troop will test your patience and pull all your emotions. Your rewards will be
plentiful and very satisfying. You will become addicted to a boy run program
and annoyed at other Troops that don't allow it. One day while your standing on
the hill watching the Scouts break camp after a great weekend of Scouting, your
going to say "I love this Scouting stuff".