Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Game of Scouting

I've mentioned this before, but I get to be on staff for Wood Badge this fall. I'll be a troop guide for one of the patrols (I don't know which, yet). It's great. And a lot of work.

One of the presentations I get to give discusses the Game of Scouting.

Robert Baden-Powell is often quoted as saying that "Scouting is a game with a purpose." (For a more in-depth look at where that phrase really comes from, click here.) 

It is important, as leaders, to ask: What is the purpose of Scouting?

The purpose could be summarized in the "aims" of the BSA, which are: to build character, develop citizenship, and foster personal fitness. That's why we do what we do. That is the purpose of Scouting.

So what is the Game? Well, that's the part that makes boys want to be involved. To them it's a game. It's fun. It involves activities and camps, uniforms and advancement, service projects and ceremonies. In short, the Game part of Scouting are the "methods" of each program.

For Boy Scouts they are:
  • The Ideals
  • Patrol method
  • Advancement
  • Association with adults
  • Outdoor activities
  • Personal growth
  • Leadership development
  • The uniform
For Venturing the methods are a bit different:
  • The Ideals
  • Group activities
  • Recognition
  • Adult association
  • High adventure
  • Teaching others
  • Leadership
I think too many leaders forget some part of all this. It's probably a different part for each leader. Some perhaps focus so much on the purposes they forget to let the boys play the game. Some like playing the game, but only part of it. Some emphasize advancement but ignore patrols. Far too many say that uniforms (for Boy Scouts) are not important. We give leadership positions but don't develop leaders.

Another thing Baden-Powell said was that "the Scoutmaster teaches boys to play the game by doing so himself." Too often we get scout leaders who won't play the game themselves. I've seen too many who won't wear a uniform. Most of their boys don't either. Too many don't participate in skits and silly songs around the campfire. How does that encourage a boy? I've even seen a few who will not raise their hand in the scout sign and repeat the scout oath and law. That just baffles me.

How is a leader supposed to lead, except by example? Scout leaders, PLAY THE GAME!

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