Scoutmaster Musings - Learning Experiences


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Scoutmaster Musings

Learning Experiences
Three adults in our troop just completed Assistant Scoutmaster training. Two of them are parents of new scouts. Now they get to start practicing adult leadership in Boy Scouts - trying out the theoretical in a practical way.

One of these new Assistant Scoutmasters (ASM) told me he wanted to get some color-coded rope for a new scout patrol to use in practicing knots and he wanted to know if he could buy it and get reimbursed. This is a good example of how a simple thing can and should be used as a learning exercise.

I explained that materials for the patrol really should be requested by the Patrol Leader or Troop Guide through the Quartermaster. (Our troop has a Troop Guide for each New Scout Patrol.) This gives the Patrol Leader some responsibility and lets the Quartermaster keep track of what the troop has purchased and where it is.

The ASM could mention to the Troop Guide that it would be useful for each scout to have a color-coded rope and ask him what he thinks - he'll most likely agree that it would be good.
Then, ask him how he thinks they should go about getting the rope. There's a good chance he won't think of requesting it from the Quartermaster, but may just say "buy some at the store".
Then, ask him if he thinks getting rope for the scouts would be a Quartermaster job. And, he'll say "oh yeah."
Then, ask him if he thinks he should go ask the Quartermaster for the rope or if he should give some responsibility to one of the new scouts to do that task.
A discussion about the length, thickness, kind, and number of ropes required for practicing knots would result in a specific request that the Quartermaster could fulfill. The scouts will also need to either fuse or whip the ends and decide how they can be colored.

By using the troop structure and placing as much leadership and decision making on the scouts as possible, the program is improved. Instead of an adult handing out a dozen lengths of color-coded rope, the Troop Guide got to figure out what was needed, how to use the troop structure, share his leadership, and get the rope to the scouts.

From the scouts' point of view, their Troop Guide got them the rope they needed and they whipped the ends and colored them so they have respect for his leadership and ownership of the results.

From the adult's point of view, it can be a lot more work, very inefficient, and sometimes frustrating. :-) Instead of a 20 minute task of buying, cutting, fusing, coloring rope, it may take a week or more for the Troop Guide discussion, getting the request to the Quartermaster, the Quartermaster getting the rope to the patrol leader, and finally the scouts preparing the rope.

The end result is the scouts have rope to practice knots, but the Scout-Led path to get there makes those ropes much more valuable.
An even better solution for this specific rope issue would be to have each new scout make his own knot-tieing rope from twine - Ropemaking Machine

The next time you see a need for rope, tents, tools, ..., anything for the troop, make sure the scout leaders agree with the need and guide them to fulfill the need rather than having an adult step in and do it.

Scout On

Posted: 9:51 04-10-2007 138
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