Thursday, October 24, 2013

What level of youth-led is appropriate?

I had an interesting Scouting discussion last night. A very well-intentioned someone was trying to explain to someone else how much the adult leaders should be involved in the different programs of Scouting. They said that for Venturing, the program is 75% youth led, Varsity is 50% youth led and Boy Scouts is maybe 25% led by youth.

My response to that was if that is the way we are doing it, then we're not doing Scouting. I tried to explain that even for our 11-13 year old boys, the program should be completely youth led. The Scoutmaster's job is to train them how to lead and then let them do it. He should be working a lot behind the scenes but if he is doing his job right most people wouldn't see his leadership. But they would see the leadership of the boys. The same applies to Varsity.

For Venturing, I said that the role of the adult leaders is a little different. The youth should be leading everything, with the adult there almost more in the role of an experienced peer who can give wise advice rather than an adult on some higher plane. I say the adult should be there as a peer, not because he lowers himself to their level but because by that point, the youth who are leading are more on the level of the adult. They are capable of acting in an adult capacity and we should help them and let them do so.

What do you think? Did I respond appropriately and accurately? Or am I up in the night? What would you have said?


  1. Clarke Green provided an interesting Infographic here:
    The way I read it, levels 6-7 are appropriate for Cub Scouts. Level 5 might be fine for the first few weeks of a troop or patrol's existence, and levels 3-4 might take a few months of coaching, training, and re-training to get through. But as the Scouts (even 11-13 year old ones) mature in their leadership abilities, the Troop/Team should be spending more time in the level 1-2 range. Even when a new youth leader takes over, as long as there's a tradition of being truly boy-led, they may need some coaching but they won't expect the adults to take over. If the SM is spending 75% of the scouts' time telling them what to do, he is depriving them of golden learning opportunities.

  2. You responded perfectly in my opinion. Boy lead doesn't mean 25%, 50% or 75%. It means boy lead 100% of the time!!!!

  3. Your response was spot-on. Mine would have not been as diplomatic.
    I'm fond of saying that "[quorum/class] Presidents preside, Advisers advise."

  4. The hardest thing for parents to do is 'Let Go'. The mind is filled with all the bad things that could happen instead of the good things that will. The best leader is the one who will let the boys fail. It is the way we learn most of the time. The scoutmasters job is to make sure they do not get hurt, not to make sure every plan succeeds. It is the worst outing they remember the most, why? because it the one they learned the most from.