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Cambridgeskip

Letting them lead

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Nights like tonight don't happen very often in the UK scout section, where PLs are aged 13 and 14. Nevertheless tonight I ran flag break, flag down and pretty much nothing else* instead the PLs ran the night.** The 4 adults present stood to one side and let them get on with it.

One interesting observation though was while 3 of those adults were quite experienced and happy to take that step back one is a parent where the family recently moved here from China. While scouting has started to reappear there it is generally not a thing. He was clearly not used to simply standing back and letting the kids get on with it. It does make you realise how revolutionary this whole scouting idea must have been in its early days.

*one kid fell over and bumped his head. Checked for concussion, told parents, no problems.

** I'm not getting too excited, based on previous experience they may struggle to walk and breath simultaneously next week.

 

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You put your Raptor claw on an important issue.

 "What is important for us [as adults in Scouting] is:

NOT the food on the campout, but that the boys cooked it.

NOT a sharp-looking flag ceremony, but that the boys put it together.

NOT who would make the best Patrol Leader [in our opinion], but that the boys elect one.

NOT that Johnny learns first aid, but that Billy teaches him.

NOT that we cover everything on the meeting agenda, but that the Senior Patrol Leader is in charge.

Our goal is not to get things done, but to create a safe and healthy environment with the training and resources that the Scouts need, and then let them do it.

It can be a very messy business, and painful to watch. Meetings where the boy leaders are in charge can be very chaotic. And it 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.

We just have to remember that our business as adults is not the same as the business of the boys. It is up to them to get things done. It is up to us to make sure they have what they need, but (within the bounds of health and safety) not what they do with it." 

Boy Scouts of America, Orientation for new Scout Parents

 

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@Tahawk

I like that quote. I often think that failures of our Scouts are learning opportunities for them. Consistent or repeated failures are often failures by the adults to provide the right support to the youth. 

There is a point I believe gets lost in the conversation about youth leadership in Scouting. I believe there is a spectrum of youth leadership, and adults need to adapt their own styles to meet youth along that spectrum. What a Scoutmaster must do, and the support they should provide to a brand new troop of 11 year old's is different than in a mature troop that has been functioning for many years. 

In my own troop I've seen the dangers of a Scoutmaster who micromanages scouts that don't need it, but I've also seen some rather experienced youth leaders flounder when they didn't receive any sort of check in from the Scoutmaster. 

I've always sought to emulate my first Scoutmaster when I was an youth. During the meetings he would sit off to the side, and if a Scout needed something from him, they knew exactly where to find him. Outside of meetings, he would check in with his SPL's and it would be something simple like "Are you happy with your plan, do you need anything from me?"

Edited by Sentinel947

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14 hours ago, Cambridgeskip said:

... a parent where the family recently moved here from China. While scouting has started to reappear there it is generally not a thing. He was clearly not used to simply standing back and letting the kids get on with it. ...

A neighboring SM had a lot of Chinese families and observed the same thing. He was pretty frustrated. I'm sure they also brushed him off because I think he was trying to sort this out with the parents himself -- explaining that they should step back from their sons a little, and they just brushed him off. A better strategy might have been coaching the SPL+ASPL to help each parent+child with the task. Often times when the scouting culture is alien to a parent, an older scout is the best emissary to instill that vision of independence and self-reliance.

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On 12/12/2019 at 6:13 PM, Cambridgeskip said:

those adults were quite experienced and happy to take that step back one is a parent where the family recently moved here from China. While scouting has started to reappear there it is generally not a thing.

Is it a scout thing or a cultural thing? I had several families of Chinese origin and it was interesting. They all adapted, they all did great, but the biggest challenge at first was standing back. The good news was they would listen carefully. They also had fantastic food at any sort of celebration. 😁

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