Scoutmaster Musings - The Taming


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Scoutmaster Musings

The Taming
I've spent quite a few hours over the past year reading some Baden-Powell writings and some early year Scoutmaster handbooks. As I read them, I can see my friends and me doing exactly what they describe - running through fields for no reason but to run, doing things our own way whether right or wrong, turning anything at all into a game. As I've reflected on these books and tried to use what I can from them to improve what our troop offers for the scouts, I've run into a tough realization over and over.

I can't help but notice that boys have been tamed. Given complete leeway to choose absolutely any activity for a troop meeting, we still sit in rows of chairs, have announcements, have instruction, and sit. We have no one tussling, rough-housing, even thumb wrestling. Nothing gets broken, no clothes get ripped. These scouts appear to prefer to sit and listen to someone talk than go outside and climb a tree. Even with direct prompting from me at the PLC meetings, an active game just isn't part of a meeting. I must be wrong. There must be something I'm missing.

When we're on campouts, if there is any free time, they sit. They don't run off and explore or get in trouble. They just sit and maybe work on some advancement.

It's almost like watching tamed bears. They do neat tricks, but you just know they should naturally be doing something else. It may be that our community, in general, is very driven to have kids excel. Since kindergarten, organized activities such as school, sports, music, and playgroups have dominated these boys' lives. Maybe they really don't know how to cut loose and have fun without a schedule and a goal. But, it's probably just that they are used to troop meetings being a certain way and they're in a rut.

So, now I'm at the 'lets try an experiment' point. And, that's what I'm planning for the next few months. I'm collecting a bunch of things my buddies and I used to do. Stuff like pitching pennies, pen guns, match rockets, hand slaps, tree climbing, rock skipping, whatever I can remember. At the next PLC, I'll ask the SPL if I could have a 10-15 minute chunk of time at the next 4 troop meetings for a Scoutmaster Challenge or some such thing.

Assuming the SPL agrees, then I'll get an Assistant Scoutmaster for each patrol and explain the plan to them. At the meeting, they'll each take a patrol and show them the activity and then step back and let the scouts play. I don't think we'll have competitions, but if the scouts move towards that, then great!

After a few meetings I'll know if this has become a part of the meeting that scouts look forward to or not. If it is, then I'll need to chat with the PLC about the experiment and how it's time for me to step back and they can start an SPL Challenge instead. Hopefully, that will be a good start to some brainstorming of active games to try. If that happens, it will be a good big step back towards FUN.

Scout On
Posted: 16:11 11-02-2007 248
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