So, with my mind racing, I put some words together…words that I hoped wouldn’t offend or get back to anyone and taken the wrong way.
*Disclaimer* – In no way, shape or form or at any time, was my intention to steal any of these scouts. My intention is to show them the way to get their troop to the way that they, the scouts, want it run. I have a vested interest in the fact that there are boys from our pack that went there, and I want to ensure that they are getting the best program.
“OK, so you guys go to Spring and Fall Camporee, rotate summer camps annually and have your annual Webelos campout at the Church lands…what else do you do in regards to outings?” I asked.
“Well, we go ice fishing every year, and once in a while, we go on a week-long canoe trip” said Joe.
“Every year? You do the same thing every year, don’t you? Why don’t you change it up and do what you guys come up with? That’s the purpose of the PLC…the PLC decides what they want to do, putting together plans and itineraries…getting everything down to the costs. Then that information is taken to the Committee, where they ‘make it happen’…it’s not about the committee approving or denying your ‘requests’…it’s about them ensuring rides and signing paperwork. From what you are saying, it sounds like the adults really do run the troop, you guys are just executing their plan” I said.
The boys all looked at me like a deer stuck in the headlights. Their gears were turning, but they didn’t know how they could proceed.
“You are on NYLT staff, and have been troop trained…why aren’t you using the tools that you have been given? You know how to run this troop…so do it” I said. “It’s not really up to the parents and adults to plan the program…it’s up to the Scoutmaster to guide and mentor the SPL to help him run the PLC, make the plans and then excute it. Like I said, the Scoumaster and the rest of the adult’s job is to train you, trust you and let you lead. From what I see, that isn’t happening.”
I continued “From what I see, you have a lot of leaders that have their own personal agendas and ideas on how things are run…and some of those leaders don’t see the forest for the trees. They have a lot of great knowledge, but some of their thinking is antiquated and they need to get with the times. They need to empower you guys to succeed, not hold you back. That’s what scouting is all about. I call them the War Horse patrol…and you have a couple members of it on your troop committee. They get that name as they are very inflexible in learning new things. They always say ‘years ago, this is how we did it’ and parade around with a cup of coffee…never adding any value to the conversation, and never really say anything that anyone wants to hear. But their way of staying relative is by staying on a troop committee, and handing down edicts because they are the ‘wise old sage’ of the troop, and everyone is on their ear, waiting to hear what they have to say next. It’s time for you to take control of your troop…starting with either having year around PLC meetings, or changing your annual program. It’s up to you.”
They all stared at me for a minute, then Aaron said, “Yea, we need to make our troop meetings more fun”
“More fun isn’t the goals, although it makes troop meetings a lot more exciting. There are methods that are used to reach your goals. Once the leaders, both youth and adults understand them, your troop will be truly, boy-led. It’s not that the flag ceremony looked bad, it matters that the scouts did it; it’s not that the food was burned, it matters that the scouts cooked it. The boys do the leading, planning and executing; that’s what matters…and if you do those things, you will have fun.”
“Yea” said Justin, “…but what about the burned food? You gonna eat it?”
“Huh? The adults don’t eat what the scouts cook…we eat our own food, and the scouts eat their own. We purchase our own, and cook it, but we may come together and eat together, but I don’t eat what they eat…the adults eat pretty well, and if the scouts also want to, they can ask and learn, but that’s the extent of it. They don’t come into the adults area, nor do we go into theirs. We separate on campouts, except when they need adults to teach them.”
Those scouts really got a good earful of information. Their gears were grinding…almost to the point of smoking. The conversation carried on with other small talk, mostly about what they wanted to do in their future meetings. It was really good to hear that.
Although the conclusion to my 5-part post is anti-climactic, a lot of “ah-ha’s” were had, and I know that this unit will be stronger for it. But you may think “why does he want this unit to succeed? He’s in direct competition for those Webelos”…
Well, that doesn’t matter to me…what matters is that those scouts have been given the tools to be successful, taught how to use them and to lead their troop.
But, I wouldn’t turn them away if they decided to come over to my troop