Jump to content

Adult Leadership in BLT

Recommended Posts

Question - how much should an adult Leader be involved in the Training, mentoring, or advising Scout leaders?


I believe Lord Baden-Powell said something like "Do nothing that a Boy can do on his own".


There are those in our Troop who feel that the Boys should learn on their own - with no adult mentoring. AJSM's are OK, but Adults should not engage. In essence, let them try, fail, and learn.


The other extreme might be for the Adults to run the show and Scouts are puppets.


I'm wondering - is there a middle ground? Is there a place for an Adult to act as "Adviser" to the Scout in Leadership (at first playing a larger role in advising and mentoring a Scout, then as the Scout's skills and abilities increase, backing off to let the Scout truly exercise leadership)? I guess I'm struggling with the "all or nothing" approach.


Granted, Scouts may eventually learn by trial and error, but wouldn't it be better to mentor them, letting them make the decisions, and then experience the rewards of consequences of their choices?


Specifically, I have suggested assigning an Adult "mentor" (or Adviser) for the leadership positions. These Advisers would mentor the Scout as they grow in the position - at first with more interaction, but with time, becoming less "present". Ultimately; however, throughout the process, the Scout makes the decision.


Too much? Too little?


Thanks for any input you can offer.



Link to post
Share on other sites


"Question - how much should an adult Leader be involved in the"


"Training", A lot this is the leader's main responsibility,


"mentoring", Just Enough to not look too obvious. To me mentoring is more of "leading by example" demonstration. A walk the talk and delivering on commitments made.


"advising" A little goes along away. Too much advice is often spilled out to the scouts in big doses. The opposite should be the rule. For instance, the whole meeting went bad, work on the open ceremony, get it right. See if that settles the scouts down. Next improve the skill demonstrations and so on.


Where is the perfect spot between a task master and an aloof leader in a scouting environment? Don't know. I haven't found it yet. In many circumstances Scouts fail and leaders fail too. Tiger Woods just failed to win a tournament. Your leader may have failed in delivering the right amount of mentoring/advising tonight. It happens.







(This message has been edited by Mafaking)

Link to post
Share on other sites

ok here are some ways that I go about it...


I'm the committee quartermaster - basically making sure we have everything we need and refilling and repairing as needed. Our troop quartermaster was unable to attend the last campout - the boy filling in knew most of what needed done, but not everything. He comes up to me and says ok I know we need to do a,b,c done before we head out does it matter what order they are done in? I answer the question by saying it's easier to get the water jugs in and out without so much stuff in the trailer --- at camp loading time he did what was right and got in the trailer pulled out all the water jugs and assigned different boys to go fill them and he loaded those up before loading personal gear. Since we were expecting rain when it was loading time I showed him the quartermast log and how he would need to write in who was taking home tents to dry out after ward. I was not able to attend the campout, but had I and seen that he was making mistakes I would've talked with him during a down time at a troop meeting and ask him why he did it his way, is it easier that way? if not I'd ask him how he's seen quartermaster's in the past do it and which way was easiest for him as a regular scout. together we'd see what works best for him and for the other scouts as well.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Over the last few years I have developed this philosophy. I will only "teach" scouts one or two at a time outside of TLT. Unfortunately TLT is set up that some sections are lead by adults.


When I see something that seems like a Scout could use a little helpful advice I usually talk to his PL or more than likely the SPL to get him heading in the right direction. When I say talk to his PL I mean I ask the PL a question like "Did you happen to notice the attack William is taking on washing the dishes?" This is typically enough to get whatever was amiss back on track.


There are other times like when a Scout comes and asks me a specific question like "What time is dinner?" That is always answered with "I don't know you, check with your PL." Often times jokingly I look at my ASM patch and wipe it of like somehow it was messed up. The Scouts usually immediately say something like, "Nevermind." and head off to find their PL.


My favorite questions from Scouts are ones like "Can you teach me to tie a woggle or put a dutch oven away properly?" Depending on if there is another Scout available that I have worked with on this particular task will dictate the answer. If there is a capable Scout around I will have the already trained Scout give the instruction. If not I will work with the Scout to learn the Skill.


I have many one to one or one to two conversations with Scouts in a mentoring way. Little nudges in the right direction, often these nudges come in the form questions. Simple things like "How many nights of tent camping do you have?" (For a Scout I know is ready for camping merit badge) or "How many cans of pie filling go into the cobbler?" (For a patrol whose has a menu but no ingredients list). These little questions are usually enough to start them off. I also will say that I limit myself to doing this as little as possible so as not to be nuisance. Additionally to much prompting causes the Scouts to rely on you to remember things for them.


I am to the point now that if I am addressing a whole patrol or worse the whole troop I know that I am not doing the right thing. PLs talk to patrols, SPLs talk to Troops and PLCs. Scoutmasters and their assistants talk to individual Scouts or Scout buddies. As we say in our troop, this Boy Scouts not Man Scouts. The one exception to this is when I have the opportunity to deliver a Scoutmaster's minute. Being an ASM, this is a rare privilege for me.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I use the sounding board approach. I'm there to offer suggestions as to what they think went wrong and then work with them to look creatively at other options they can consider for the next time.


I ask questions to encourage after activity review and work at leaving suggestions as to what they might want to consider for next time. It makes no never-mind to me what they then choose to resolve their issues.


The only time I directly involve myself with an issue is in a safety issue.


I have also been requested by the boys to teach leadership training on occasion.



Link to post
Share on other sites

SM's primary responsibility is to see that his junior leaders are trained.


Now to answer your question, it depends?


In some units the youth leaders are thoroughly trained and do teach their peers. Saw this in my troop growing up. It was expected that those youth going to the then BA22, now NYLTC, would have the KSAs to teach their peers, and we did. heck as part of one ambitious project, my district conducted a district wide, day long TLT (or whatever it was called back then)with nothing but BA22 grads running it.


Sometimes a bit more involvement is needed. I know GBB said the SM should be the PL of the patrol that consisted of troops leaders for a brief period of time until the SPL could take over if memory serves. Training took 6 months.


If you have youth that can do it, let them do the training under your guidance. If you need to train them, then do so.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Great input, all.


Based on your responses, looks like shades of gray?


One extreme - "Scout Puppets" where adults are really running the Troop and the Scouts respond to their direction. Other extreme - "Blind man's Bluff" - Scouts are turned loose to "figure it out" with little/no training or mentoring.


Each comment brought something good to the table. I especially liked what Eagle92 said about the older Scouts training the younger ones. I think that, if they have training or abilities in the leadership area, that is definitely the way to go.


On the other hand, areas where the older youth have either limited or no experience, or are just not available, I would think an adult should probably come along side the Scout to train/mentor. The training/mentoring should not be "doing it for the Scout", but rather, progressively decreasing interactions over time as his knowledge and skills increase.


As a professional trainer, I find that at first, the interaction tends to be more "delivered" (show and tell), but over time, the interaction reverses - the student takes the lead and I am there as a sounding board and safety net.


Is that a sound approach in Scouting?


I appreciate your comments. This is really helping me know how to interact with the Scouts.

Link to post
Share on other sites


You're getting it!

If you don't have a culture of good leadership development, it takes time - perhaps years - until it really sinks in. Do what you have to do, but always thinking about how you can pull adults more into the background. For the older boys to effectively teach, they need to have the leadership experience under their belts. And more important, they need to have the respect of the younger guys who want to grow to be leaders like them.

I've found that by the time they are juniors or seniors in high school, the guys want to help teach leadership training because they want to make sure the troop continues to be the troop they knew and loved. It's really powerful when some of the guys in college make the effort to come back and continue to teach.


Of course, you will get some new dynamics with every leadership election/selection. There's always a few stumbles before the next team is as effective as the last and some struggle the whole time, so us adults always need to be adjusting our approach, too. It's kinda like taking them on a trek at Philmont. Our place is at the end of the line - keeping an eye on things and letting them lead. Then about a mile down the wrong trail, quietly suggesting to the crew leader that a map review might be in order.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeh can let a boy fail, but yeh should never let a boy flounder.


Answer to your question just depends on where your troop is at, eh? Scouting is always a process of tryin' to get to full youth leadership. We never quite get all the way there. When we get close, they up and graduate and we get a new bunch of rascals. ;)


Yeh can let a boy fail, but yeh should never let a boy flounder.


Failing is what happens when a boy has the tools and ability, but hasn't put it all together yet. Maybe he's stubborn and just has to try it differently, maybe he's just tryin' to figure out how it fits together. Failin' is like getting blown up at level six in a video game... it's a bummer, but a lad knows how to start over, and knows if he keeps tryin' or gets a hint fro a friend he'll figure out how to make level seven.


Floundering is what happens when a lad hasn't been given da tools, or is put in a situation well beyond his current ability. It's like not knowin' how to turn the video game on or hook up the joystick. Just leads to frustration on everybody's part. Yeh give instruction, guidance or support to a lad who is floundering... preferably in advance, before they flounder! Yeh show him how to hook up the joystick or guide him through the basics on level 1.... that is to say, yeh do youth leader training and show 'em how to get going. Doesn't take much, though. Boys learn fast. Key is to know when to back away after yeh give enough to get 'em going.


Yeh can let a boy fail, but yeh should never let a boy flounder.




Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks to each of you for your help. I think I have a clearer picture of the role an Adult Leader should play (and not play).


Also, thanks to each for the dedication you have to these Scouts. Our future is built one brick at a time - and today's youth are those bricks.



Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...