Scoutmaster Musings - Being Prepared

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Scoutmaster Musings

Being Prepared
boy scout camp Our Alps Mountaineering tents have nice vestibules and do a great job of keeping out rain, but only when properly set up and when gear is stowed. As you can see, that's not the case every time. How does a scout leave his uniform shirt laying in the mud out in the rain?

Last week at camp, I often saw scouts ill-prepared for the day. Whether it was 'forgetting' their water bottle, rain coat, merit badge material, towel, or sunscreen, some scouts would constantly be in need. Reminders from the SPL before breakfast, reminders from the Scoutmaster after lunch, and reminders from Patrol Leaders in the evening fell on a more than a couple pairs of deaf ears.

We are asked to train scouts and then let them practice their skills. When a scout is told, shown, and asked to practice a behavior and then does not do it, what should an adult leader do? The training has been done, punishment is not an option, so letting him get dehydrated, soaked, or burned and then taken to the health lodge seems like the next step. Seems like a tough way to learn.

I believe some boys are so coddled that they don't grasp the concept of self-sufficiency and responsibility. The 'training' some have received at home for the past 11 or 12 years is that someone will take care of them, pick up after them, fix it for them, or in some other way make everything ok for them. At some point, each boy will finally understand that his actions and the resulting consequences are his alone, but some have been guided by the hand for so long, it takes extra practice.

Providing them with more opportunities to make decisions is key. We had a great lesson the morning we left camp. A severe weather risk caused the camp staff to evacuate all troops to the dining hall at 4:30am. Almost 20% of the scouts could not find their raincoat. Afterwards, we discussed how having a few important items readily at hand during the night is important. Hopefully, it will be remembered next time. Another opportunity was each evening's campfire. The guys gather, start the fire, have a fun time, and then remember that they don't have a flashlight. I'd guess almost half the guys were in that boat, even towards the end of the week.

It sure sounds like I'm complaining, doesn't it? I guess I am, about the coddling anyway. But, I'm also pointing out that 11-16 year olds don't connect all the dots like adults. Planning ahead, being prepared, and considering consequences takes some mental development that some of these guys just don't have yet. Keep instructing them, keep caring about them, keep encouraging them, and sooner or later you'll notice a change. You might even see a clean, dry shirt or two at the end of the week.

Scout On
Posted: 23:21 07-28-2011 647
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