In the Washington Post, from last year that I have been meaning to write about, a fascinating article about emotional isssues that kids in college are facing. The focus of the article that the title suggest the emphasis is on women’s college sports. The content is far broader, even though the persons interviewed are women’s college coaches and affiliate personnel.
One strong passage caught my eye.
Talk to coaches, and they will tell you they believe their players are harder to teach, and to reach, and that disciplining is beginning to feel professionally dangerous. Not even U-Conn.’s virtuoso coach, Geno Auriemma, is immune to this feeling, about which he delivered a soliloquy at the Final Four.
“Recruiting enthusiastic kids is harder than it’s ever been,” he said. “. . . They haven’t even figured out which foot to use as a pivot foot and they’re going to act like they’re really good players. You see it all the time.”
Some of the aspects emphasized apply equally well to scouters working with scouts.
It doesn’t take a social psychologist to perceive that at least some of today’s coach-player strain results from the misunderstanding of what the job of a coach is, and how it’s different from that of a parent. This is a distinction that admittedly can get murky. The coach-player relationship has odd complexities and semi-intimacies, yet a critical distance too. It’s not like any other bond or power structure. Parents may seek to smooth a path, but coaches have to point out the hard road to be traversed, and it’s not their job to find the shortcuts. Coaches can’t afford to feel sorry for players; they are there to stop them from feeling sorry for themselves.
Coaches are not substitute parents; they’re the people parents send their children to for a strange alchemical balance of toughening yet safekeeping, dream facilitating yet discipline and reality check. The vast majority of what a coach teaches is not how to succeed but how to shoulder unwanted responsibility and deal with unfairness and diminished role playing, because without those acceptances success is impossible.
Here is a key conclusion.
The bottom line is that coaches have a truly delicate job ahead of them with iGens. They must find a way to establish themselves as firm allies of players who are more easily wounded than ever before yet demand they earn praise through genuine accomplishment.
From this article we can draw a couple key conclusions:
- In our role as scouters, we can help prepare our scouts, boys and girls, for their college experience. We can teach them to deal with “unwanted responsibility” such as cleaning up after dinner or cleaning the latrine and with “unfairness” such as being assigned camp tasks too many times when others have not had their rotation.
- We can be the “toughening yet safekeeping, dream facilitating yet discipline and reality check” that is parents to provide for their own kids.
- We can be “firm allies” of scouts “who are more easily wounded than ever before yet demand they earn praise through genuine accomplishiment” such as rank advancement, BSA Life Guard training, mile swim patch, or high adventure.
Our immediate past Council Scout Executive, Patrick Sterrett is back. He is part of a new announcement in his new role as the National Assistant Chief Scout Executive for Programming. (I know “national” and “chief” are redundant, but I have a large and diverse audience.)
They are providing a 15 minute introductory video for councils that wish to be part of the “soft launch” of Cub Scouts in the middle of January 2018. We have not received word yet whether the Crossroads of America Council wishes to participate in that. Since we are normally a beta tester for many programs, it would not surprise me if we do.
UPDATE (12/20/17): I have been advised that we will have an official update on what local council will or will not do after the Council Board meets tonight. Watch this article for further updates.
District Executive Jessica Hofman reported this morning that North Star has had a net gain in membership for 2017! It is only a handful of scouts, but given that we have been down for many years running, this is a very good sign.
Within those numbers, our Cub Scout membership is down modestly, largely due to a less successful recruitment year. However, our retention rates have been very strong so that we are keeping more boys longer.
This attests to the quality of the programs that you offer our youth. Congratulations!
Jessica is very interested in membership issues, so she is working hard to help us in that department.
In addition, we are just a few months away from girls be welcomed into our packs. While we have no reliable forecasts as to what to expect, we can only hope that this change will accomplish its stated goal of increasing membership.
Good luck in 2018! Keep up the good work.
Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh, Patrick Sterrett’s new boss, made these remarks the day after the vote to go co-ed. Surbaugh is a good speaker and worth a listen.
It is too bad these types of posts did not precede the vote.
Council has called a meeting of District representatives for next week. The topic will be about “Making Scouting Accessible to Families.”
As I noted in a previous post, this really is a questions of whether we should go co-ed throughout our programs.
If you have an opinion on the subject that you would like me to share, please me your thoughts by Sunday, August 13, 2017. I will make sure to include these in the conversation with council officers.