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Scouting as a path to Independence

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Initiating conversations, unless they’re about Star Wars or Roblox or Minecraft are not Zach’s forte. Getting the hang of advocating for what he needs has been difficult for him, and it’s a process that requires coaching, sticky notes, and multiple tries. Cold calling adults to be his merit badge counselors is not easy either, but with a script to work on he’s getting it down.

It sounds like a simple skill this self-advocating, but I truly believe it will be one of the most important that he acquires in childhood, and scouts will be the forum wherein he learns to do this.


 I can’t stress enough the importance of independence with any child (my teaching background is kicking in here), but with kids on the spectrum, it’s imperative....

I’ve already seen growth in Zach in this arena since he started boy scouts, and it has transferred over to home as well. I am hearing a lot more “I need this” and “I’ll do it myself” which is heaven to my ears    -  Kimberlee  Ruth  McCafferty

More of the McCafferty family story at source link


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I had a rough drive to work this morning, thanks for bringing me calm.

I believe Kimberlee's article is profound for scouting. Independence is the path to confidence. Confidence leads to initiating actions  and making decisions toward set goals.

I am amazed with the number of boys who join our troop that lack the confidence to step forward with any decisions. Scouting develops self-confidence through the path of independence. We watch it everyday. Adults today understand how independence leads to self-confidence, but they don't trust it. They put independence off until they feel their scouts are more mature. Ironic because that is putting the cart before the horse.

The McCafferty story is intriguing because Kimberlee sees how the tiny independent actions in the 8 Methods are actually the big steps toward confidence of stepping forward in life's challenges. Give the naive shy new scout a quick guide for cold calling adult strangers in the MB process, and he learns the big skill of communicating with strangers. Oh, the parents may need to practice the guide before the call, but the true independent actions change the scout forever, if only just a little.

In our minds, learning the skill and building the confidence of communicating with strangers is far more valuable for an 11 year old than the MB skills he is taking. We found that 3 MBs was all most scouts needed for the confidence of calling strangers. That same scout will be calling strangers for scouting events the rest of his scouting career.

And even learning the basic scout skills develops the habits toward independence and confidence. We don't sit new scouts down and teach them knots, we get them to set a goal for initiating the process for learning the knots and completing that goal. The goal for the first knot is very simple like learning the square knot in the next hour. Most important however, is the big step of independence by initiating that goal by simply asking to learn the knot. 

Of course as the skills get harder and more complicated, setting a goal of learning the skill and developing a plan becomes more complicated. So, we guide scouts to write down the goals in their books. That way they can review and remind themselves of their goals. The SM can review their goals at a SM Conference. But, the simple skill of learning to initiate a process to a goal leads to a proficient 14 year old Scout planning a weekend camp out for his Patrol. I've watch that process repeat itself hundreds of times. Older Scouts who joined our troop without those developed skills are often intimidated with the expectations and responsibilities of our scouts the same age. 

Developing the confidence to step out of a comfort zone starts simply by giving the scouts the independence to practice initiating the tiny decisions. Maturity is the result of the confidence gained by the little decisions, not the mastery of the skills.

Developing maturity is the result of a program the adults develop for practicing independence. It's not easy for the adults, but the efforts are rewarding. 

Good article. 



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22 minutes ago, mrkstvns said:

Confidence. Communication. Independence. Leadership. 

All very fundamental characteristics that a youth can develop via scouting.  It's no coincidence that more often than not, America's leaders were former scouts.

100% agree.

I have several stories of extremely shy, introverted or learning disabled scouts who turned into inspiring leaders simply because they displayed great confidence.

Another way to identify confident scouts is to observe who the new scouts like to hang around. Instinctive nature drives those with no confidence to seek safe shelter of strength. Confidence is an instinctive show strength. When I was a young scout, Arrowmen where very confident outdoorsmen. The OA requirements of that time sorted out super scouts from the scouts. They were special and always had the natural following of young scouts.


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