Several months back, my local NPR affiliate started a new series where it investigates questions listeners pose. Some are serious (dealing with topics like how the city spends tax dollars), but most are less weighty. The first question set the tone for the series: “Why Do We Give Directions With Landmarks That No Longer Exist?”
That’s a question that applies to Scouting as well. Those of us who’ve been involved in the program for decades often remember how things were rather than how they are. And I’m not talking about pining for the good old days either (not that that’s very productive). I’m talking about mistakenly assuming that the rules and advancement requirements of five, 10, or 20 years ago are still in effect.
Case in point: Recently, as I was preparing the new second edition of The Scoutmaster’s Other Handbook–you have bought a copy, haven’t you?–I checked the Guide to Safe Scouting to see how it describes the dangers of convoying, only to find that that information is no longer there. (That’s not to say it’s a good idea to travel long distances in nose-to-tail fashion with only the lead driver knowing the route; it’s just that the guide no longer prohibits the practice.)
How can you avoid leading Scouts with rules that no longer exist? A few things will help. First, pay attention to blogs like mine and Bryan on Scouting that highlight changes in BSA policies and advancement requirements. Second, avoid the temptation to post copies of the Guide to Safe Scouting and other BSA publications on your troop, district, or council website; instead, create links to the publications at scouting.org. Finally, assume (like I did with convoying) that your memory is faulty and go back to the source document whenever possible.
Think of it this way: The BSA has plenty of current rules, regulations, and requirements to go around. There’s no need to layer on another set, one that only exists in your memory.
Need more great troop program ideas? Check out the new edition of The Scoutmaster’s Other Handbook, which is now available in both print and e-book formats at https://www.eaglebook.com/products.htm#scoutmasters.