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Compete with Scouting December 25, 2008

Posted by thetrainerscorner in Uncategorized.
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Hello fellow Scouters,

I hope you all had a great Christmas. As Scout leaders, we are in a competition – we are competing with finishlineother youth programs for the increasingly divided time of parents and children. This is not news, as we deal with this all the time. Since this is the time of New Year resolutions, here is one to consider: Let’s face this challenge head-on by making the Scouting program we oversee the most fun we can this coming year.

Those of us in private industry understand competition. It’s a challenge we face every day. Other companies court our customers. They can make more technologically innovating products. They can make cheaper products. But competition brings out the best in a company. A company cannot rest. It must continue to innovate, look for efficiencies, and open up new doors in sales. And we as Scouters can learn from this – competition can make our programs better. We can face the challenge of other youth programs head-on by making the great program provided by the Boy Scouts of America the most fun event that your boys will have in a week. Our goal is for little Johnny to say “I can’t wait for Tuesday to get to the den meeting!”

Here are some suggestions to help:

Games – every meeting should have a fun game. Don’t sacrifice game for the advancements. It’s important to work towards the ranks, but it can’t be the end all – rank advancement is a method of Scouting, not a purpose. There might be times when you, gasp!, only have time for a game. And that’s OK (provided it’s not every meeting). As I have said before, plan your meeting around a game; don’t plan a game for your meeting.

Advancements – we don’t want to go too fast towards completion of a rank, but we don’t want to go too slow either. So work at a pace so the boys will understand what they are working on, but won’t grow bored. And consider the mind of the boys we have. If a requirement would seem slow or boring to your Scouts, and you can’t figure out a way to liven it up, then either skip it or have the parents do it at home.

Just say “No” to lectures – always take the requirements and make them fun and interesting. Don’t ever make it a lecture. The boys shouldn’t be sitting down and listen to us speak. If there is a time where a requirement asks us to discuss something, then have a box of cookies to pass around while we discuss. And make the lecture’s time end by the time the cookies have made it to the end of the group. And make it an interactive time where they are discussing and asking questions (and munching on cookies).

Outings – get outside of the meeting place. Have den outings. Have Webelos den campouts. Go hiking. We can have outings that don’t meet a requirement in the book, but are just fun and interesting place to see. Go places. See things.

Don’t do it alone – if we have a den of 8, then we have 7 other parents who can assist us. Don’t be afraid to delegate and ask for help. Learn to take your program and give out pieces of it so you aren’t running the whole show. The Tiger program has the shared leadership function, where every parent is supposed to be a leader. We often make the mistake when we become Wolf scouts by having one or two leaders take over and do it all, with the parents moved to the sidelines in a spectator role. Consider assigning tasks to parents. Have parents rotate bringing a game or craft to the meeting. Have a parent in charge of tour permits. Have a parent scout interesting places for outings. Creating a fun program can take work, and it’s best to share the load.

Get a Den Chief – our Scouts will always look up to an older boy. A Den Chief can be a great addition to the team. He can help in games or crafts, and he will serve as a good role model for the boys.

So as Scout leaders, our charge is to Keep It Simple, Make It Fun. Competition is not a threat to our programs, it’s an opportunity to make our programs better! It’s okay if our boys are in sports and other activities. If our Scouting program is fun, they will stay because they don’t want to leave.

(This is written primarily for Cub Scout den meetings, but can be applied to pack meetings and outings.)

How are you attacking the challenge of divided interests? Please leave what you do to make your program fun in the comments section.

In Scouting,

-Scouter Jeff <><

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