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  • Scouting for Adults

    Time to pull the pin and throw the controveral gernade. Here's something that I've thought about while reading the different posts on this site. I've heard a sentiment of "Remember, we're here for the boys" or "it's for the scouts not the adults", etc. This is used as a reason to go to training, not to wear knots/beads, settle disputes, etc. I'm going to propose why can't the scouting experience be for the adults as well? Maybe it's better stated, why do we hide the fact that scouting is for adults as well.

    I don't think anyone can say that what he/she did in scouting was for the scouts only and he/she did not benefit from it. I went thought all the BSA training and use it outside of scouting all the time. In training the scouts on citizenship, camping, fishing, morse code, etc., I learned things and became a better person (I'm also amaze my coworkers on the daily trival questions). Why do we shun away from that fact? You never hear that on this site or the BSA site, etc. It's like it's a bad thing for adults to benefit or have a good time. I've read a number of posters that will flame people if they say something positive about having a good time at WB or anything else, unless it's in the context of "having a good time with the scouts." It's like the benefits we as adults receive from scouting is a dirty little secret.

    I changed the way I talk to parent when I speak to them about being a leader. In addition to telling them about how great it would be for the boys to have him/her as a leader or how much the boys needed him/her, I'll add in how the training BSA will give them will help them out in work and how they'll get alot out of it. I'm talking socially, continuing learning, the "warm fuzzies", etc. A lot of intangible things that we as adults don't get a lot of nowdays. I will admit that at this point of my life, I don't get too much from BSA training (though I do get key nuggets of info each time I go), but what really keeps me going is that I meet great people and make fast friends because we have common interests and we're not competing for a prize or promotion where there can only be one. And yes, I push the knots and awards. I our daily lives, when was the last time you received an award for doing a good job? If you're lucky, it was recently. If you're like a lot of us, work is something that considers the fact you got a job as a just reward. Having that one knot or piece of paper that says "Good Job" is the little pat on the back that we all need sometimes.

    I think we shortchange ourselves and the program by limiting scouting to just the kids. Scouting is a way of life and should be relished by all. If we want strong programs the key is to not do it just for the boys, but to get the parents to believe in, and live the scouting life. Boys may get distracted, but if the parents buy in, the boys will come back.

  • #2
    I don't think anyone is going to disagree with you -- but I've been wrong before.

    Obviously there are benefits for the adults. I certainly wouldn't put the time, money and effort into the program if I weren't getting something in return. Hopefully, we all enjoy working the the boys, camping and serving with the other adult. Many of my good friends are Scouters and we have just as much fun camping and serving together as the Scouts.

    "It's for the boys" is a reminder we're here as adult leaders of a youth program. It doesn't mean we're some sort of dour, self-sacrificial sect. On the other hand, you don't have to read these boards to hear about adults who are in the program for the wrong reasons. Of course those reasons always seem to be in the eye of the beholder.


    • #3
      2CB: ""It's for the boys" is a reminder we're here as adult leaders of a youth program."

      What he says here.

      It's a reminder that sometimes must be made.

      Yes, there are many benefits from being a scouter. Training. Awards. The activities. But sometimes we have to remind people why we're here. Some forget at times, almost ignoring the kids for themselves.


      • #4
        I guess that's my point. My opinion is that the adults that are solely in it for themselves are few and far in between (Mostly, I don't see them in units, but at council level.) But we hammer in the "for the boys" all the time. It does seem like we're a bunch of dour, self-sacrificing, group of people here. Why would I stay in this group or do more than the minimum online training? Don't I already do my parental responsiblities by being there as part of the pack/troop? Now if we said that this training will not only make you better at scouting, but also at work, home, etc. we may get more people to do more than the minimums.

        Also, if we keep saying "it's for the boys", when the boys age out what keeps the parents for staying active in scouting? Yes a few dedicated ones do stay, but the most I think say it was for my boys and now that there's no longer in scouting, my time is done.

        I'm not saying that we shouldn't keep the focus on delivering quality programs for the scouts, but when packs/troop/crews struggle to recruit and maintain leaders, we should also examine what should we do to for the adults.


        • #5
          I think Scouting functions as character development, leadership training and just plain fund for adults, just like youth. It often also function as training in parenting skills as well, in my opinion.

          I know Scouting has improved my character and taught me leadership skills, and I've had plenty of fun along the way.

          Personally, I've never met anyone who was in Scouting just for themselves, though. I hear there are some of those out there though, mostly from what I've read on this board.


          • #6
            I agree with what people said.

            But remember BSA does not have a monopoly on Scouting. They are just the largest in the USA. Check this out:

            Scouting for adults, Rovering, existed in BSA years ago. And it still does in the B-PSA. If an adult wants to learn the same skills and badges up to 1st class then they can. Then it focuses on other achievements and you get more badges.

            If recognition of your achievements is important as an adult, check out B-PSA. But you can learn all the same things and achieve the same personal growth as a BSA Scouter you just dont get all the badges to wear on your uniform. You get what you put into it.

            Personally, I don't need any recognition beyond watching the kids learn skills and grow. I find the B-PSA very interesting for other reasons which dont belong in this thread, Rovering is not one. But for other people, Rovering may be important to them and it is great there is a viable option for them.


            • #7
              Around age 30 I joined the local volunteer fire department. We held weekly general business meetings. One weekend a month we had training. During the training, the members were either teaching the other members or being taught. Sometimes we would run specific drills. The state had a certification program of specific courses and tasks that had to be completed. Members progressed at their own pace. We wore matching uniforms and provided service to the community. Sound familiar?

              Moved and joined a technicial rescue squad. One weekend a month we met to train and complete requirements towards certifications. The state had at least two certifications that each required about 200-240 hours of classroom and practical training. When all the requirements were met, you got a patch and a paper certificate. There are/were also national certifications in dedicated areas. You could be a Hazardous Materials Responder. Or a Swiftwater Rescue Technician, levels I and II. Others included building collapse technician (think 9/11), trench collapse tech, confined space tech, and several others. Each time you completed the requirements, you got a certificate. Senior members of the rescue squad had a book of certifications. Some of us had so many certifications, we started taking and completeing instructor certifications. So not only did we hold training for our own team but traveled to surrounding fire departments and rescue squads holding training sessions for them.

              We had matching uniforms. We had intermittent levels of designated leaders. We had members who were cross trained on a wide variety of skills and new members were coming along.

              For about 10 years I was a member of an organization that was basically scouting for adults. The chief of my particular rescue squad also happened to be an Eagle scout. I can tell you that when the squad trained for wilderness SAR, there was quite a competition between the members to display our outdoor skills.

              But back on topic... I think adults do get a lot from the BSA program. If they didn't why would anyone spend the amount of time, money and effort to make the program work. I was scout before my sons and will likely be a scout after they age out of the program. Because it is something I enjoy and get a joy from.


              • #8
                Sure, adults get something out of scouting, but "it's for the boys" is a reminder to make decision based on what's best for the youth. Adults and their wishes come second.

                My dad was a public school administrator. His mantra for decision making was, what's best for the students? If you had a decision between A and B, and both were equally good for the students, then you could pick whichever one you liked best. But if A was good for the students and B was not, then you picked A even if you - the paid employees of the school district - liked B better. You did that because the students were why the school existed in the first place. If you weren't making decisions in their best interests, then you were doing the wrong thing.

                I think it's the same for scouting. Though we may get a great deal out of it as adults, the reason it exists is to serve the youth, so we'd best make decisions that are in the best interests of serving the youth. Otherwise, we're doing the wrong thing and we will lose support from the rest of the community.


                • #9
                  Its for the boys... Its all about the boys... Scouting is not for adults... "Scouting is to serve youth"...

                  How about - its about making the world a better place...

                  The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values found in the Scout Oath and Law.

                  Adults are a big part of that.


                  • #10

                    "The true meaning of live is to plant trees, under whose shadow one does not expect to sit."
                    = Nelson Henderson =

                    If you happen to like apples, plant some Northern Spy or Jonathans.


                    • #11
                      I am a life long outdoors man...... Bow hunting, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, backpacking, hiking, camping, motorcycle.....I do all of this with friends whom I consider brothers.

                      I am not a man scout.

                      The reason I say this is I do not need the excuse of boy scouting to enjoy the outdoors. My son was Backpacking and hiking long before he was a cub scout.

                      Where is old Blake at????

                      Most Man Scouts would not go to the woods outside of scouting. Most adult leaders in scouting I know and have met are these guys.. Love to camp with the troop or Pack, rarely if ever on their own. They know their knots, but know what to do with them....They have a knife and can demonstrate how to sharpen and care for it, but never carry it. Most can demostrate how to build a fire, but cannot accomplish the task without chemical help.

                      I have infinitely more fun on my own than with the troop and it is much easier to boot. Son and/or daughter grab packs, we swing by the grocery store on the way out of town and instant outing.

                      No tour permits, no screwing around with pick up and drop off times. Now shaking down gear.....No crying kids in the middle of the night.....No ruined food and giving up my dinner.

                      I enjoy scouting, but I also understand that is not MY TIME. This is my son and his patrol mates adventure. I am just along because I need to be.


                      • #12
                        Yes, volunteers do "get something out of" Scouting. That is a known, and documented, fact.

                        Back in 2003 BSA did a "Volunteer Outcome Study" with Harris Interactive Research. The results boil down to -

                        "Overall, the findings suggest that volunteering for the Boy Scouts of America has helped people become better citizens, better parents, better managers/supervisors, and better employees."

                        If you are interested in reading the complete study it can be found here -


                        However, keep in mind that volunteers in any organization reap rewards from their volunteering. BSA is not unique in that respect.


                        • #13
                          I agree with what Basementdweller wrote.


                          • #14
                            Basement, I'm referring to how we can get those parent that sit on the sidelines involved. You volunteered so that automatically puts you in a different group despite why you did it. Recruiting new leaders is an age old problem and it seems only a few, blessed units do not have an issue of recuiting leaders. I saw a pack fold at the beginning of the school year because the CM decided to hang it up and no other parent want to volunteer to take her place. I just saw notice of another one getting ready to fold because they can't enough leaders. I'm saying that we have to appeal to how scouting can benefit them as well as their children. Facts are boys are always ready to join scouting, but without adult leaders, program will fail. I'm surprised that many non-eagles leaders that I talk to say they were in scouting, but their troop folded before they could make eagle. I just think that unless we innovate the way we go about recruiting leaders, we'll see scouting to continue to decline.


                            • #15
                              I like raising youth. It's fun. People that would rather not be doing it treat me like some kinda saint, so it caters to my ego.

                              Being able to use that as an excuse to get out regularly is just gravy.