The Scouting Game

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In my work as District Commissioner, I am often in a position to ask volunteer scouters to complete training. It is very easy for me to sound as if training makes scouting. The joy and enthusiasm for our activities make scouting.

Clarke Green has a weekly blog post where he posts Lord Baden Powell’s bi-weekly magazine columns about scouting. It is interesting to see many of the problems we face today were the same problems that Lord Baden Powell advised his scouters about.

This week’s post is “Scouting – Game, Not Science.” B-P emphasizes that scouter training serves a purpose, but it is too easily misinterpreted. Scouters then become depressed, and the boys catch the depression. He says,

Scouting, as I have said above, is not a science to be solemnly studied, nor is it a collection of doctrines and texts. Nor again is it a military code for drilling discipline into boys and repressing their individuality and initiative. No — it is a jolly game in the out of doors, where boy-men and boys can go adventuring together as older and younger brother, picking up health and happiness, handicraft and helpfulness.

B-P recommends how to properly view training:

[The Scoutmaster’s] job is to enthuse the boys and to get experts to teach them. The collection of rules is merely to give guiding lines to help them in a difficulty; the training courses are merely to show them the more readily the best ways of applying our methods and of gaining results.

B-P helps enlighten us about the correct point of view for training. It is to teach us the best way of applying the scouting methods to get results. In today’s business language it is the “best practices” of scouting.

Our emphasis at District on training is not for enforcing discipline. It is for giving each pack, troop, or crew the tools to achieve “best practices” as quickly as possible. Skip some of the pain of the School of Hard Knocks. Focus on what works. Shift responsibility for the program’s planning and action to the boys in an age-appropriate manner. We want to train you so that you are more comfortable with scouting.

How much more enjoyable is a sport or a card game if you understand the rules, goals, boundaries, and methods of play? Learn scouting’s “best practices” so that you can focus on the game – not the rules – of scouting.