Scout Leader Lessons from the Wrong Side of the Road


This year, my wife and I traveled to the UK on vacation. Since we wanted to visit several cities (and quite a few villages), we rented a car.

Now, you probably know that Brits drive on the left side of the road, but you may not know that they have roundabouts at most intersections and lots of narrow roads boxed in by head-high hedges. At one point, we were on a road so narrow that we could literally reach out either side of the car and touch the hedges. And that was a two-lane road! (Bonus tip: never drive down a road marked “unsuitable for HGVs,” which stands for heavy goods vehicles.)

But what really got my attention was something I wasn’t prepared: how fast things seemed to be coming at me. It felt like the world had switched to fast-forward. I barely had time to read the often-cryptic road signs, shift gears, pick the correct lane in the roundabouts, absorb what my GPS was trying to tell me, and avoid the hedges and oncoming trucks. By day three or four, however, the world had slowed down to more or less normal speed, and I began to enjoy the adventure.

Upon reflection, I realize I probably felt the way all new drivers feel–and the way our Scouts feel when they try to master a new skill for the first time, whether that’s cooking over an open fire or planning a troop meeting. As Scoutmaster, I often got frustrated when my patrol leaders’ council would take 20 minutes–20 minutes!–to decide which patrol would do the opening and closing at a single troop meeting or when a patrol would take two hours to cook a simple breakfast of pancakes and bacon (and another hour to wash the dishes). But I now realize I was looking at their world through my eyes.

Does that ever happen in your troop? Perhaps you should think about how you become more patient when you see a student driver on the road and imagine your Scouts wearing signs that say “camp cook in training” or “apprentice leader.” If you do that, I can guarantee that the world will quickly slow down to normal speed for them, just like it did for me in the UK.

Need more great troop program ideas? Check out The Scoutmaster’s Other Handbook, which is available in both print and e-book formats at


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