In the Disney classic “Follow Me, Boys,” Scoutmaster Lem Siddons’ biggest challenge is to tie a sheepshank. For the rest of us Boy Scout leaders, I think the biggest challenge is to figure out just how much support to give our youth leaders, especially the senior patrol leader. To continue with the rope analogy, some Scoutmasters give their SPLs enough rope to hang themselves, while others keep the leash so short that their SPLs are little more than dancing marionettes.
The best approach, of course, is somewhere in the middle, but finding the balancing point can be difficult—especially since it changes from Scout to Scout (and even from week to week with the same Scout).
I read a story a few years back that vividly illustrates the challenges—and the joy—of hitting just the right balance. It’s about a dad and his four-year-old son taking a trip to Home Depot for some project materials, but I think the lessons are equally applicable to Scout leaders.
I encourage you to read the story—it’s at http://gamesbyemail.com/WoodTape/Default.htm—and put yourself in the dad’s place. Then, think about how the story relates to your relationship with your youth leaders.
Read the story and then consider these truths jumped out at me:
- The dad was willing to go along with his son’s plan even though he wasn’t quite sure what that plan was.
- The dad didn’t criticize his son for the things he didn’t know.
- The dad didn’t jump in and take over, even though he could have gotten things done much faster and more efficiently.
- The dad nudged his son out of his comfort zone but showed his support by his presence.
- The dad stayed in the background, even when other adults wanted to cut his son out of the loop.
- The dad recognized that the journey was far more important than the destination.
What jumped out at you? How can you apply these lessons in your troop?