Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Scoutmaster Report: One Week In

In my first week as Scoutmaster, we got the boys through two activities and didn’t lose a single one of them.

First activity: The Haunting at Krupp Scout Hollow. Bedlam in the line waiting to get in. That was the scariest part: Standing there in the semidarkness amongst a gigantic knot of boys and leaders, hoping that as I scanned the boys darting past or wrestling on the ground that they were indeed my boys – no correcting behavior tonight; just counting them. The spook alley itself was anticlimactic.
Second activity, much more sedate: Nuclear Science merit badge pow-wow with the local chapter of the American Nuclear Society. Only three boys showed up – not bad for an off-night activity. All three earned their badges. Score.
This weekend, started on my goal of meeting with the scouts and their parents. Met with two scouts, both anxious to get their Eagles before they turn fourteen. I have mixed feelings on that, but I will keep my mouth shut, because it’s none of my business whether they want to do that or not. Later this week I will meet formally with my own son, whom I’ll have in the troop for the next few months. Debating on whether to visit with the boy who is moving on to Varsity Scouts in November. I may skip him. Not because I don’t like him or anything, but my goal in meeting with them is to see what they want to do in scouting – and if they’re moving on, the interview has little value.
Those meetings will eventually spread into calendaring. I sat down yesterday to sketch out a three-month calendar, and it actually turned into a calendar almost a year long. I’ve got some gaps to fill, and – more importantly – more input to gather, but it’s at least a start on something, right?
So once I complete the calendaring and my visits, I will have completed three of my Wood Badge tickets. That’s exciting stuff. And the good news is the other two will fall into place rather quickly. Not that they’re going to be easy to do – this meeting thing is a challenge for an introverted boob like me. But there’s lots of value here, certainly if I can get boys excited about helping me out with communicating with their parents and working in the two patrols.
There’s a neat thing – I had no idea our troop had any patrol organization, but it does indeed have it. I still think dividing the troop into two smaller patrols to help pass around the leadership opportunities is a good thing, and I know of at least one scout and one father who thinks that’s a good idea as well – and it’s not me and my son, which is even better news.
So I’ve got to figure out patrol training.
Don’t want to reinvent the wheel here, but also don’t want the boys to think I’m having them do busy work.
Part of the calendaring I’m doing, however, is to encourage patrol work. One week a month I’ve designated as “requirements catch-up day.” Ideally, the week before this happens, the patrols will meet to identify what each individual scout would like to work on that day. The patrol leader will gather that information and present it to the senior patrol leader, who will report to the scoutmaster. Each patrol quartermaster will make sure the necessary equipment is present at the catch-up meeting so things can get done. The quartermaster can either bring the materials or work with the scoutmaster and other leaders to ensure the materials are present. If a scout can’t think of something that needs to be worked on, the patrol leader will ask the scout to work with the scoutmaster to identify what needs to be done. Older, more experienced scouts will be encouraged to help those who have requirements to meet. This is, hopefully, a model of the “helpful laziness” Ralph Oborn encourages in scout leaders – meaning we’re not the sages on the stage, but there to assist if needed but more often than not just to fade into the background, letting the boys do the work.

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