scouts-l Mail Archive for April of 2000: How to "Shape Up Troop"?
Wed Apr 05 2000 - 11:04:51 CDT
>The boys want to make campouts into hazing and
>play time. There were complaints that they couldn't spend the whole time
>fishing and puttering around in the canoes. They don't want to cook and
>do KP, They want to play War, complete with tying up captured enemy and
>drop tents on each other (the tying and dropping both expressly
>verboten). At Troop meetings it is very hard to keep most of the boys
>attention or keep them on task.
I have to admit, this is an exciting Troop. You need to remember, these are not
the boys problems, they are adults. Left alone, the Scouts would tell you
everything is "great". Most all Scouts are basically the same, it's just their
behavior habits that sets them apart, and that's great, because we are in the
behavior business. It's a matter of changing these boys habits without losing
their energy and enthusiasm. It's a matter of motivation.
Start your guys changing their habits by changing their goals. Help the Scouts
and the PLC set some goals and then teach them the skills to reach those goals.
Then reward for them for their achievements. If all goes well in our Troop, in a
few months I owe steak dinners to four Patrol Leaders at the end of their term.
Along the way, I get to evaluate their performance and council them in the
values of their leadership habits they are developing. Boys like to feel good
about themselves, they like surprises and they like junk food. Although it's
very important that a boy learn to motivate himself through understanding his
behavior, you can jump-start these guys with rewards and prizes.
Scouting has to be fun for the Scouts to come. Your Scouts have got that part,
now the adults have to learn to channel that fun into constructive positive
habits that are restricted by the Scout Law and Oath. It will take a while
because you adults build, practice and learn from your experience, and failures.
Bad habits are hard to break, and good one are hard to develop. As you instill
new habits, explain why they are a benefit to them now and in their adult
future. They don't really care about your benefits, so give them their reason to
change. They will still resist because that is their nature, but your patient
and persistent. With each new PLC, you guide some change for the next PLC to
build from. It's a slow process and it seems like it's always one step backwards
for every two steps forward, but change will happen for both you and the boys.
I have been told many times that 90% of behavior is learned by our actions, not
our words, so the adults guidance needs to be 90% action, 10% words. This has
been a killer for my Scoutmaster Minutes.
Sounds like the Boy Leaders are only concerned about themselves. Start holding
the Patrol Leader responsible for all Patrol behavior, good or bad. Remind them
that the patrol is TRUSTING him to be LOYAL to them by providing them with
information from the PLC. Emerge them in conditions that tell success from
failure and give satisfaction to the success and annoyance to failure.
Teach yourself to be their loudest cheerleader when things go well, and their
private concerned counselor when they don't. Don't yell because they will relate
yelling to anger. They need to see you disappointed, not angry. Boy Leadership
duplicates the adult leadership. If your adults are short tempered loud
dictating types, your Scouts will be the same. Practice patience. If something
makes you angry, take some time cool down so that your not reacting from your
anger. Always talk in a calm voice so the Scouts feel they can talk to you even
when they screwed up. Build habits of talking with the Scouts about the wrong
decisions, guide them to the benefit of the right ones. One on one works best
because the boy leaders listen better if they aren't embarrassed by their
friends standing around. But Praise in public, nothing better than a boy leader
standing on air in front of his Patrol or Troop. And the rest of the guys get to
see what you, the wise Master Scouter thinks is a good performance.
By the way, I think there is a plan behind all this. Adversity builds strength,
wisdom. You have been presented with the path to become the strongest and wisest
of Scouters, I can't wait to learn from your Troop. I can't wait to hear the
rewards you earned from your lessons learned. Keep asking questions because
eventually it will be us coming to you for guidance.