Re: LEADERSHIP OBJECTIVE OF SEA SCOUTING
Sun, 23 Feb 1997 20:33:02
(Note to Bruce and others interested: I've moved from midwest.net
to dynasty.net last weekend, and will lose all access to this
account on March 1. Please followup any replies for me to
dynasty.net; I will be returning from Europe on May 1)
Jim Elroy wrote earlier:
>The problem is that I have maintained the the best Sea Scout units
>are run almost entirely by the junior leaders. The skipper and
>other adults function as advisors.
This is the Scouting way, the Exploring way, Jim. This has been
the way that Exploring and Scouting has worked in the past 80-plus
years and it should be the way it works today.
>Once the junior leaders are trained and functioning,
>they completely run the unit with the adults stepping in only when
>safety or urgent matters arise.
That's true. There are two keys to this, as you've pointed it out.
We MUST continue to safely instill into our youth leaders the idea
that THEY are in charge and THEY are responsible, just like we
Boy Scouters do with our youth leaders over there. We have to
remember that our Explorers ARE NOT 12 or 14 years old; they are
teens, and have some sort of knowledge of what it's like to be
"responsible" (and even not, that's part of our being as Skippers
The other key is that WE MUST BE CONFIDENT in their abilities to
lead and work with others. Being on a ship is vastly different
than being in a Troop, but the premise is the same: one stupid
trick, one prank, and it could hurt someone. That's why we need to
continue to have an effective Sea Exploring Leadership Training
experience for our youth and adults; and once they have completed
it and an orientation on the ship (and hopefully some experience on
the ship as a deckhand), then we rest our hands under our buttocks
and let them lead, only stepping in as you've stated for safety
and health reasons ONLY.
>At sea, I maintain, that a 16 year old Bosn is prefectlty capable
>of supervising, planning and directing the units operations and
>functioning as the Officer of the Deck on a 50 foot vessel, with
>two competent adults aboard. The adults would do nothing as long
>as the Bosn is doing a good job and everything is operating
That's the way that Sea Exploring has been operating in the past,
Jim. I see no reason why it cannot continue that way. Back in the
70s, the same concern was brought up regarding Aviation Exploring
units, and the conclusion was then as it is now that training and
proactive advisment, along with confidence in that training and in
the ability of the youth leaders to ground aircraft and members
were the keys, and the program continued going forward!
>Some experienced Sea Explorer leaders maintain that this is
They either lost confidence in their youth, or want to live out
some stupid fantasy of being "captain of a ship" with the youth
members all being his or her personal "deckhands". That's dumb.
Think about all of the Sea Exploring Ships which has sailed with
only ONE adult in some cases (because we weren't concerned back
then with such "stuff" as "two-deep leadership" and whatnot....we
SHOULD be concerned with it...but back then, there wasn't much of
an emphasis as it is now)...and not only did the ship sailed
without a problem, but it brought more youth to the program because
"there wasn't some adult running the show...we ran it, we mapped
it, and we sailed it!!"
>I feel that the real objective of Sea Exploring is to develop the
>leadership ability of these young people to their fullest. I feel
>the best run ships are run by the youth for the youth, at sea or
Think of this way, Jim: we are preparing them to sail that ship
under their own power and with confidence once they become adults.
If not *your vessel*, someone's vessel (maybe their own boat).
It's like getting a driver's license: we coach them, we teach them
and they read the book and learn the "rules of the road". Then,
they get tested, they are given a license, and from that point
onward, they are in charge (or should be) of their own vehicle.
We've taught them how to maintain it, how to care for it, how to
not abuse it, and we've talked with them about their
responsibilities to others in society in general and in particular
to their own "neck of the woods".
Then, we pray and hope that we've taught them well, and let them
That's what leadership has ALWAYS been about. no matter if we're
talking about Exploring, Scouting or in industry. We train, coach,
mentor, and teach. Then, we allow them to exercise leadership in
small groups and later in larger groups later. Then, we let them
go at it. We're still there to keep them from really hurting
themselves, but they are the ones "out front, large and in charge!"
>I have run the ship this way for over 30 years. My training
>programs have always had this objective. I have never found that
>this procedure was unsafe. In fact I found that these
>young people were much safey than 99% of the adult boaters and
>many of the Sea Explorer leaders.
I don't think you're wrong, Jim. I think that those other adults
have gotten caught up in the BSA's risk assessment and management
circle...and if we don't watch it, we won't have a BSA program but
something that looks like Big Brothers and Big Sisters. Part of
the BSA's program, one of it's methods is leadership development --
putting our youth in front supported by other youth and our adults.
This is what makes the BSA's programs, including Sea Exploring,
which I'm personally fond of and have served as Skipper within --
popular with young adults. We treat them as young adults, not
children. We give them the skills, as you've done, Jim, and we
let them try it out in a controlled enviorment. YES, Goodness,
things sometimes goes wrong and someone gets hurt. But it's NOT
because we're stupid and careless, just that it happens. We do
all we can to prevent it, but we can't encase everyone in
injury-proof suits while they are supposed to be having fun!!
You're doing the right stuff, as long as you're doing it the way
the program was designed to be done. My biggest "beef" are
Scouters, including Exploring leaders, that insist on running the
program as if it was their own private "club" instead of as part
of the program of the BSA. Yes, there's a lot ot lattitude as to
what the youth of that program can do, but let's make it the
YOUTH's decision and not some adult's "IDEA" of what "they
remember" the program was about "back when I was in it".
Sorry for the long reply, but your're on track, Jim.