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Oldscout448

Scout Led/run Vs: Scouters Teaching

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This has been hashed over and over I know, but I'm still struggling with the last campout campfire.  I know that's criptic so allow me to give a thumbnail sketch. 

 

About 5 scouts were given the task of building the Saturday night campfire,  none of them had a saw or an ax so I lent them mine.  My axes are just short of razor sharp,so I followed the scouts to the campfire circle.   Firstly to see that no scout got hurt, secondly to see that my ax wasn't going to hit a nice hard rock.    It was quickly clear that none of the scouts had ever built a large fire before.    I sat on my log and tried to stay out of it.   After watching them pile the wood up, and have it fall apart, twice, I asked if I could make a suggestion.  they said "uhh sure"  "Notch the logs."  "How?"  "Can I show you?"   "OK"  So I notched one log and showed then how it would now cradle the log above it.   Then I sat back down. They did the rest.  It wasn't exactly neat or pretty but it held.  They seemed pretty happy with their work.  They gave me my tools back and headed back. to their tents.

 

Then the other Scouter there took me to task for " Not letting the scouts learn by failing"  he seemed to think that we are not to teach anything, just sit and watch and drink coffee.   That I was not allowed to pass on anything I have learned in four decades of hiking and camping unless asked by the scouts first.  Now he's a WBer, with a lot more knots than me, but that just doesn't make much sense. 

 

Look, I dont want to be a PL again.  Or an ASPL, SPL, JASM, QM,or bugler  I did all those in my day, now its these scouts turn to learn to lead and teach.   But they can not teach what they don;t know,  any more than they can ask to be taught what they don't know exists.

 

Am I off base here?

 

 

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Who assigned the duty to build the fire to the five boys?

 

An adult? SPL? 

 

Okay the boys have a management task to perform.  No one has given them the proper tools to do the job, nor the training on how to do it.

 

Failure?  These boys were set up to fail.  

 

No, you are not off-base, but your buddy is.  Having beads or knots does not make someone an expert at anything.  This gentleman needs to be reminded he is there to support the boy in their success, not revel in their failures.  If he isn't going to support the boy, then they need someone who will.  #1 rule - take care of your boys.  If he's going to sit around and drink coffee while the boys fail, what example is he leading with?  Next time the boys are sitting around doing nothing and he gets mad, just remind him this is the example he's been teaching them.

 

Right now, I do not have older boys to teach the younger boys so when I'm out camping, we do not keep the 300' at this point.  But when the boys are getting their meals together, I'm always doing something different.  This past weekend, they cooked on a 2 burner propane stove and I cooked on my backpack stove using white gas.  While I didn't say anything their curiosity did peak and they had to come over and checked it out.  While they made foil dinners, I was doing up a hamburger/onion gravy to go over my mashed potatoes and glazed carrots.  One boy dragged out his mess kit and mimicked my every movement and made the dinner that way.  The other boys stuck with the foil dinners.  Curiosity is wonderful teaching opportunity.  Like you said, they can't figure out what to do when they have never done it before.  

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What you did sounds fine to me. I don't necessarily want scouts to fail, I want them to learn. Failing is just one way to motivate someone to learn. The bottom line is it seems like they learned. If they were asked to make another fire they probably could because they obviously figured out how to notch the logs.

 

There is someone else that obviously did not learn anything and that would be the guy that sent these scouts to start a fire. Maybe that's what the other adult got his knickers in a knot over. Not a big deal.

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I suppose in a perfect world, you would have older Scouts who would be called upon to help/teach the younger Scouts in this instance.  Stosh doesn't and maybe you don't - I don't see much alternative then to watch, and offer counsel and teach where appropriate.  I don't see where you did anything wrong.

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Ah WBers...only a mother could love. Still if you don't like drinking your coffee alone, I guess they serve a purpose. :laugh: 

 

We scouters are not passive; we are here to help scouts learn by succeeding themselves. Teach them the skills and step back and monitor safety. If they fail after that (allow them to fail if safety permits), either they learn from their mistakes or some more teaching by you or another is needed. Teaching and practice, repeat.

 

Well done.

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By my thinking, you served to do several things

you taught these boys that adults may have ideas

and by asking if you could show them, you hinted that it would be ok for them to ask you stuff....

and you showed them a trick, but didn't do the task for them

so they practiced it a bit.

and now these scouts have a trick up their sleeves for the next time, that they can teach other scouts.

 

& I'll point out that you DID in fact let them fail.... you said you sat back and watched them pile up wood twice only for it to fall over....

 

I'm no wood badger, so what do I know..... but it seems to me based on what you wrote, which is of course only your side..... your perspective...... but I'd say you did exactly right.

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@@Oldscout448, Wood Badge typically means the advice giver thinks they're always right. In my experiences most WBers are too full of themselves.

 

You did nothing wrong. Sounds like you did the right thing and in the right manner.

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What is missing here is what happened before...  My sense is that there should be a discussion with the PL early on about what tasks need to be done and who is going to do them.  My line to the PLs is that they are not supposed to do everything, but to help their guys to do everything.  They help the boys do what they need to do by coaching and advising and the boys help the PL by getting the job done.  

 

So the discussion would go like this.  

 

Hedgehog:  So what is the patrol doing after dinner?

PL:  We're having a big campfire.

Hedgehog:  Who is going to set up the fire?

PL:  I can do it.

Hedgehog:  You job isn't to do everything for the boys, but to lead them so they can take care of everything.

PL:  OK, how about the new guys, they would like to do that.

Hedgehog:  Do they know how to start a fire?

PL:  I can tell them what to do.

Hedgehog:  Are there any other older scouts that can do that?

PL:  Yeah, Bobby and Tommy can supervise.

Hedgehog:  Supervise sounds like telling them what to do.  Is that what they should do?

PL:  I meant to say "coach" or maybe "teach"

Hedgehog:  So what are next steps?

PL:  I'll go talk to Bob and Tom and tell them what they need to do with the new scouts.

Hedgehog:  I'm getting my coffee and my chair.  I'll be over there if you need me.

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Now my prior post really begs the question... how do the older guys learn how to do things right?  The answer should be that another older scout taught them, but that isn't always the case.  

 

My thinking on this is a lot like Stosh's -- curriosity.  For fires, I have a bag of different tinders and ignition sources.  Toss it to the older scouts and they want to try all the different methods.  Take those guys out in the winter and they want to have a fire starting contest in the snow.  I also carry a bushcraft knife.  They see me batoning wood, they all want to try.  As a result, every scout knows that when wood is wet on the outside, it is dry on the inside.  For dinners, the adult patrol eats really good.  It only takes a couple of times until the older guys are glad to work with the younger guys (who do the planning and cooking for First Class) to make better food.

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Adult Association is a co-equal method of Scouting.  Please not it is not the "Adult Leadership."  but that's a different thread.

 

Ya done good.  I taught swimming for years.  Sink or swim is a lousy way to learn anything.  Part of our jobs is  to provide Scouts with the tools to succeed, that includes both physical tools and knowledge.  Asking a group of young scouts with neither the tools or knowledge to build council fire is about the same as asking them to build a jet fighter.  What will they learn from the failure?  Will they learn to build a fire next time or with they learn they can't build fires?  Will they learn you're a jerk and don't practice about half the points of the Scout Law you preach?

 

And, oh by the way, Wood Badgers aren't necessarily jerks.  Most the old time Scouters I know have taken WB and most are great guys.  There are a bunch of jerks too.  My suspicion is they were jerks before taking the class.  Correlation is not causation.

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I can only join the above posters.  Completing training only proves that one completed training.

 

I would add that since trying to insure safety is a non-delegable duty of adults, you were absolutely supposed to at least be there for that purpose alone.

 

Having said that:

 

The ideal is to have Scouts learn on their own and teach each other.  We do not live in an ideal world.  Sometimes it just makes sense to ask if some guidance will be accepted.

 

 

The purpose of the program is decidedly not to insure success.  The program expressly contemplates that the Scouts will do some learning through failure.  

 

"t can be very tempting for adults to jump in and sort things out, because that is what adults do.  But we have to remember that that is the process of Scouting. That is how they learn—even from disorganization and failure.â€

 

Adults [sHOULD] understand that their role is to create a safe place where boys can learn and grow and explore and play and take on responsibilities—and fail, and get up and try again.â€

 

BSA 2015

 

 

Adults in Scouting facilitate the journey from failure to success by having non-judgmental discussions with the leaders about what happened and how a better result might be gained.

 

 

Bill even advised that such discussions only happen on the leader's or leaders' initiative:

 

"Train 'em, trust 'em, let 'em lead.  And remember that last is of tremendous importance.  Let them lead in practically everything. Let them work out their own problems, interfere as little as possible—but be ever ready to give wise guidance—not when you think they need it, but when they seek it. Keep in mind that unwarranted, ill-advised interference discourages leadership and that those boy leaders of yours are 'learning by doing.'

 

Mistakes, some of them serious, are bound to be made; therefore, be ever ready with a kindly and friendly spirit to urge them to try again.

 

Help them occasionally with constructive criticism. But do your coaching on the sidelines always, never in front of the Patrols. And then, when the Patrol Leader succeeds in his job, praise him for it. Commendation which is justified and not overdone is an absolute necessity. Such statements of approval should be made occasionally before the interested

group. They like it, and so does the leader, as long as it is short, free from "soft soap," and genuine." 

 

Handbook for Scoutmasters, BSA, William “Green Bar Bill†Hillcourt, 1936, at pg 225

 

 

Finally a Smithism, from my first Scoutmaster, directed at a new SA (me): "No one ever died from a burned pancake."

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Adult Association is a co-equal method of Scouting.  Please not it is not the "Adult Leadership."  but that's a different thread.

 

Ya done good.  I taught swimming for years.  Sink or swim is a lousy way to learn anything.  Part of our jobs is  to provide Scouts with the tools to succeed, that includes both physical tools and knowledge.  Asking a group of young scouts with neither the tools or knowledge to build council fire is about the same as asking them to build a jet fighter.  What will they learn from the failure?  Will they learn to build a fire next time or with they learn they can't build fires?  Will they learn you're a jerk and don't practice about half the points of the Scout Law you preach?

 

And, oh by the way, Wood Badgers aren't necessarily jerks.  Most the old time Scouters I know have taken WB and most are great guys.  There are a bunch of jerks too.  My suspicion is they were jerks before taking the class.  Correlation is not causation.

 

 

Whatever else may be good and true, "Adult Association" has a specific meaning as a Scouting "method":  adults demonstrating Scouting's values.

Edited by TAHAWK

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i was thinking more about my earlier post.... oldscout448, you didn't say what your position is.... ASM I'm assuming.... and the other scouter?  

 

There's a twist to consider.... and that is the idea that anything coming from adults should go through the scoutmaster through the youth leaders.

I listened to a podcast the other day on scoutmastercg.  Clark was making this point, that to avoid mixed signals or mixed info, that everything should really be going through the SM.   I'm not so sure that I agree with this idea so absolutely as he laid it out, but it is something to think about....

 

I still think that based on what you presented, you did absolutely the right thing, as I said in my earlier post..... but in theory I'll acknowledge that it is possible that by doing so you undermined something that the SM was trying to do..... or maybe something the PL was trying to do.... like for example some lesson about making sure they bring their tools.  A scout is always prepared after all.

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We teach all Scouters who take Position-Specific training that if a safety issue arises, they are to immediately address it to the extent that the risk is controlled.  Only then, is there a unit policy issue to run through the SM.

 

If there is no urgency, it might be a good idea to consult the SM.   We had a dad tell Scouts that sheath knives and axes were absolutely prohibited in Scouting as he went around camp gathering up all such tools.  Maybe he thought it was urgent.   Another dad, somehow a "trained" SA, was showing them how to use Coleman fuel to start a fire.  Many more examples on request. (Of course, there was also the SM of a neighboring troop who caught our attention at a camporee by throwing cups of Coleman Fuel on his troop's campfire. WHOOSH !!   One can only hope.)

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