The Voice of the Scout has been out for a while, and I am just now getting to read it. The summary is here. Not sure how that happened. In reading these, specifically the summary, I agree with a lot of it.
As it relates to the Scout Unit directly you see this:
“• Youth/Scouts overwhelmingly enjoy their experience, citing it is fun, life skills
learned are very valuable and activities are of interest. However, the way in
which the program is delivered is not consistently hitting the mark. The two
themes are meetings are boring and unit leadership is not strong. More great
outdoor activities is a strong request by a majority of respondents.
• Parents echo their sons’ sentiments: Scouting is a critical part of developing
character, but the meetings are not always a good use of time. Parents’
number one area for improvement is better trained adult leaders.
As part of the Cubscout Program you see this: “Needs Improvement: It’s Too Boring: There are numerous negative comments (boring, not fun) scattered throughout the Cub Scout responses in the context of meetings, gatherings, and experience. In the case of Detractor experiences, about 90 percent of those who commented were negative, specifically citing boring and not fun.”
For Training of Adult Leaders: “Training – more opportunities, relevant and improved – was suggested by the Volunteer segments.”
So, what can you and I do to help turn the tide? For me, there are two things.
First, get more involved if you can. I am not saying become the Cubmaster, Scoutmaster, Coach, Advisor or Skipper or some big position leader. If you are a subject matter expert (SMB) then offer your support there. For the most part the Cub Scout program is the only Adult led program. The rest of the programs are supposed to be youth-led.
Two points about any of the programs. Listen to the youth. We adults are there for them, not us! If your in Scouting for yourself, you will fail. When I went through Wood Badge in 2009, a comment that heard and understood was “Ask them what they want.” It’s their program, they just do not know what or how to do stuff. As Adult Leaders we are charged with providing the program, helping them advance and learn as they do.
All other program we are there to using “guided discovery”. This is their time to fail and learn. Failure is generally not an option, but that’s in a life or death situation. Within Scouting, we learn what not to do the next time. Which, maybe part of the “waste of time” or “boring” comments. People get frustrated if they do not see around the issue. But, this is the second point. We are using guided discovery with the Scouts to help them find what worked and what failed. It is the same we would hopefully do within a Lean Six Sigma Master Blackbelt project at work.
Training and Improvement of Leaders.
The Scouters who are in the program, working with the Scouts need to understand what they are providing. An Eagle Scout is really only as good as where he comes from. Yes, a Troop and/or a Scouter can severely hamper the advancement of the Scout. It is also true with those within the Cub Scout level. The Cub Scout Leaders put on the program. Den Leaders have a lot more interaction with a Cub Scout than a Cubmaster. That being the case, each Adult Leader needs to avail themselves to good quality training.
Online training is good for just the basic’s. IE: If your Cardiologist got a C in Medical School, you might look elsewhere. You want the person who has the A or very close to it. That’s online training. Seek out good face to face training within the District or Council. You do not have Tigers Scouts using a video to learn how to do a leaf rubbing? No, you get construction paper, crayons and go for a hike in the neighborhood park to find them. You look for different leaves. You talk about each tree and what’s special about it.
Hence, the face to face training, even if it’s “Leader Specific Training” will have more information about that position than you will get from online.
Continued Training: Go to the University of Scouting/Pow-wow/Program & Training Conferences. Go to the Commissioner Colleges and BALOO, OWLS & IOLS. Take First Aid, CPR & AED. Take Wilderness First Aid, even if you’re not going to Philmont. Take classes on sewing, Geocaching, snowshoeing, cooking classes and other things that have nothing to do with Scouting. Heck, go to the Apple Store and learn iPhone, iMovie and how to create a database. You can use these within the Scout Unit. Being well-rounded within Scouting will serve you and the Scout Unit well. It is what we talk about to the Scouts in what Beltloop/Merit Badge to take/learn. We need to do the same.
Taking what you know and applying it to the Scout Unit will only enhance the fun that everyone has.
Here’s the but: The District/Council needs to give people who are very knowledgeable about the subject they teach. Boring presentations will stop people from coming to a training. You will get people looking outside the District and Council for training. I know….I was and am that person. I took on the Training Chair position one and half years ago so I can help make a difference.
Do your best, make the program, unit and position you’re in the best you can. Encourage others to do the same. If we do this together, we can turn this next Voice of the Scout in with better results.
If you have not participated within the Voice of the Scout, check with your Unit Commissioner and/or your District Exec to make sure the email address that is in Scoutnet, is the correct one. Mine wasn’t and I got it changed!
Yours in Scouting.