Scouts-L Mail Archive for December of 1999: Re: Scout Led
Re: Scout Led
Sat, 11 Dec 1999 14:26:30 -0600
Sarah asked us all:
>That sounds wonderful, but how do you get there when you're just
>starting out? Our troop is just over a month old.
By first establishing who's running the show -- the youth. As the other poster
wrote, this is NOT an easy thing, Sarah, because we all want to "make sure they
do it right" -- whatever the "thing" is. The Scouters involved in the unit
maintain first that the youth leaders elected are the ones in charge and
adults serve as backups to those youth leaders IF THEY ASK FOR US TO HELP.
Not "When WE feel that they are "dying" as leaders.
Second, by training EVERYONE in the WAY THE TROOP IS GOING TO BE RUN.
>What can I do that is appropriate to my position? What can I encourage
>the SM/ASMs to do? In short, can you give us a track to run on to get
>to the scenario Bob described?
In the two Troops whereby I transitioned the Troop from adult-run to youth
run, here's how *I* did it:
*First month: Meeting with the youth of the Troop, introducing myself and
my assistants as Scoutmasters. Emphasizing that "Scoutmaster" does NOT mean
"person in charge" but rather "master of Scouting". I know a lot of about
the skills and programming techniques, but that does NOT make me the leader
of the Troop.
The leaders of the Troop are called that -- ".....Leader." Those are the
people that direct what we do and how we do it. It took two meetings to get
that through them, because they expected me to "say one thing but then take
charge from them" as their previous Scoutmaster have done.
Meeting with the Assistant Scoutmasters and Troop Committee, realigning
ourselves into this "new way of doing things." This required some education
on the part of several Troop Committee members because they were used to the
old way of "adults telling the kids what to do, and then the kids would go
out and tell the other kids that "Mr. So-and-so" told us to tell you that we
have to do this..." There were several defections to the other Troop (which
was MORE youth-run than we were!) because "This guy's coming in here tearing
up what little we had of our Troop! None of our boys will make it to Eagle
Scout under him!"
Meeting with the PARENTS of ALL registered Scouts (even the ones that didn't
attend before) and the Chartered Organization. We held this meeting at the
chartered organization's offices across town for emphasis. Scouts were NOT
ALLOWED. During this meeting, I introduced the two Assistant Scoutmasters,
and then explained:
*the concept of youth-run. This means, I said, "The youth plan the program,
the youth implement the program, the youth are responsible for the program
and the youth leads the program." My job would be to "help them to run
THEIR program, to help them through the rough spots in THEIR program, and to
keep you adults and my Assistants from INTERFERING with THEIR program to the
extent that health and safety of all members come first, followed closely by
the interaction of all youth with adults, which is what Scouting is all about."
There were a lot of questions, Sarah:
"Does this mean that they get to tell me what to do?" No. I am the
Scoutmaster and when there are major differences of opinion about what to
do, I serve as the official "tie breaker and referee". In my absense, the
First Assistant Scoutmaster does those things.
"Does this mean that they get to do whatever they want to do each week?" If
it pertains to Scouting or has an application dealing with Scouting, yes.
This means that if they want to see a movie together, and if they are
allowed to see this movie, then we all go down the street and across the
parking area to the movie theater and see the movie. If they want to go to
the skating rink or to the gym, that's their program. Of course, all of
this will be PLANNED OUT IN ADVANCE, and the leadership of the Troop will
have to clear their plans with me and with the Troop's Committee, because
their job is to support the Troop's program.
"So when they want to fight each other, that's a program? Doesn't sound
right to me!" No, fighting has NEVER been part of Scouting. When they have
a difference of opinion, that is a part of Scouting as it is a part of
living. But fighting, sniping each other, and calling names are NOT
SCOUTING and won't be tolerated. The Troop's program each month, each
week, is planned by the youth of the Troop. They do the program, and they
can ask me or my Assistants for advice about how to do it. But its their
Several other questions dealt with advancement, and who signs off the books,
and how will they get their badges. I've also told them about the Troop's
policy on what happens to youth whose parents do not pick them up after the
meeting (we drop them off at the military police station because their was a
community policy about youth being out alone after a certain hour at night).
The meeting with the adults was hard, Sarah, because we all want to see our
youth to "make it in Scouts" and we don't understand why its so important
that they do as much as possible as youth members.
*Second month: Leadership training and elections. We trained ALL of the
youth in the Troop, using the Troop Operations Workshop found in the old
Scoutmasters' Handbook. The Troop as a whole planned the first nine-month's
program (the Troops in which I served as Scoutmaster had elections for SPL
and PL every nine months as opposed to six months, with appointments in all
other offices for three month periods. This allowed the SPL to rearrange his
"cabinet" two or three times, and to allow up and coming leaders to serve in
one or more Troop positions before serving as Patrol Leader or Senior Patrol
Leader. It also "provides a more effective payback" for the Golden Falcon
(the Council's youth leadership training course) training that the Senior
Patrol Leader and some Patrol Leaders received...your mileage in this regard
All along the way, youth were leading and learning to lead the weekly Troop
meeting and the monthly Troop outings. The new leaders wanted to see if I
was serious about this "youth leadership" thing, so they did some silly
things like played soccer for one complete meeting; another meeting was
spent at the bowling lanes; and yet another meeting was spent talking about
families for the Family Living Skill Award. Once the SPL realized that as
long as advancement stuff was going on, and as long as some aspect of the
meeting resembled a Troop meeting, they settled down and started to do
"Scouting things." Expect that to happen.
*Third month: By then, the concept has been drummed into the youth and the
new leadership and the first test -- the camporee test -- came up. The
Troop's adults wanted to "insure that we won something" during the
District's Camporee....I shook my head and reaffirmed to them that "The
Camporee is NOT about winning. It's a test to see how well the Troop
operates as a Troop and Patrols operate as Patrols."
I was right....we didn't come in first place in a lot of the competititve
events, but we did come in first place in Troop Leadership and Patrol
Management in the District and later one of the Troops served as "host
Troop" for a District-Junior Leadership Training Workshop. By then, the
adults settled into letting the youth take the lead.
Does it work ALL of the time, Sarah?? No, it doesn't. Does it require
constant vigilance and maintainace by the Scoutmaster and his (or her)
Assistants? You betcha!! Will it work?? If your Troop MAKES THE PLAN AND
DECIDE THAT THIS IS HOW YOUR TROOP WILL BE RUN FROM NOW ON.
(MAJ) Mike L. Walton (settummanque, the blackeagle)
personal inquiries via firstname.lastname@example.org,
blackeagle@SCOUTER.net or email@example.com
professional inquiries via firstname.lastname@example.org
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