Scouts-L Mail Archive for September of 1999: Losing Scouts
Wed, 8 Sep 1999 10:54:10 -0600
>I made a personal committment to do this for an extended period of time, with
>goal of not letting it die a quick death.
>Perhaps I am getting burned out...
I was looking at the other thread of "What does scouting offer that makes it
maintain for future members". I think the question should be "what makes
Scouting unique to any other youth program?". Scouting is the one youth program
that allows the a boy, no expects the boy to make mistakes and learn from them.
I know of no other program where a boy is safe to screw up. I can't think of any
other program where struggle is encourage because struggle is where we learn the
most. There is no other program where the boy is truly in control of the
performance of a large group.
This is where your Troop is right now. Your program appears to be struggling
because the boys are choosing other activities over yours. They don't see the
Troop as a place to have FUN over the other activities. Use this struggle to
grow. Set the example.
My experience with Scouting is that a quality program is not easy. The programs
with the least effort towards the Aims of Scouting are the weakest programs that
struggle to hang on. These programs don't get it. They think Scouting is where
we go to camp and earn an Eagle. They usually have very little training, almost
no desire to change and limited vision on building character.
You appear to me as a leader who has taken personal responsibility to build
citizens of character and leaders of integrity. That is not an easy task and
requires a lot of work. Good programs come in cycles because they change all the
time. If they didn't, the Scouts wouldn't be struggling. Your just in a valley
right now but take heart, it will come back. Use this low time to learn what it
is about your program that the Scouts want to choose other programs over yours.
It may be nothing more than changing the meeting night or something more in the
order of letting the PLC do something wild and crazy like and all nighter at the
movies, bowling and eating breakfast at Dennys. A good program is always
changing so expect change. Use your Scouts to learn where the changes need to be
made. Most of the time where I see Scouts preferring one activity over the Troop
is when the Troop isn't FUN anymore. If we as adults are expected to help these
boys grow, then they have to hang around long enough for us to do that. And for
boys to choose anyone activity over another, it has to be FUN.
I also understand that maybe your going through burnout. I find myself there
about ever six months now. That's when I lean on my assistance. Through your
post I can see you have the heart to build a wonderful program where boys become
men of character. But you can't do it alone. You need to find another you. Folks
who also has the vision. Others who want more than just to go camping every
month. It's a must, or you program will surely pull you under because Scouting
is hard. Scouting is a program that requires a conscious effort because each
Scout deserves your personal attention for guidence to live by the Scout Law and
Oath. But each one is different. You can't use the same blanket teaching and
influence technique for all the Scouts. You have to work with each one in his
own way. That takes a lot from a person. That's why you need lots of persons to
achieve the job.
Sit down with your Scouts and find out what they like and don't like about the
program and then come up with some wild FUN ideas to add or change in their
program. Let them lead with you giving gentle pushes in the right places. Give
them credit while you humbly smile. Be their loudest cheerleader. ALLOW the boys
to be boys in a program that teaches them in a FUN way to be men. I still
beleive that any time the program isn't FUN, it should change.
At the same time, go find your help, and start working with them to balance your
program so that all have the opportunity to build habits in these young men that
will help them grow into the husbands, fathers and leaders of the community that
you hope they will become. It's not easy, but very rewarding. And if you need
more help to pump you up, give us a call. Most of us have been where you're at
now and can help you climb out of the funk. Much of our program is built off of
ideas from Scouts_L, this is the place to be.
The fact that you see a problem and ask for help shows the care you have for
your Scouts. You are way ahead of many Troop programs already. Your Scouts and
their parents are lucky to have you.