Scouting is a program that helps boys make moral and ethical decisions as they grow and mature with character and leadership development through outdoor adventure and the application of the Scout Oath and Laws.
Scouting is a program about character and leadership development through outdoor activity and the application of the Scout Oath and Laws.
Getting a boy to adopt something like the Scout Oath or Laws is a challenge. I be describe it as “The President of the United States swears and Oath of Office” and “US Military Oath of Enlistment” where members are sworn to protect the Constitution of the United States. Oaths are all around us, attorneys have them, civic servants have them, doctors and other professionals have them. Even sports athletes have oaths that they hold true to on a daily basis. And of course there are the oaths of one’s religion that guide many people throughout their lives.
As a Scoutmaster my role is to guide young boys through adolescence into adulthood by instilling in them the ability to lead others and themselves, to act with character and treat others with dignity and respect. I encourage boys to embrace the Scout Oath and Laws not as a “program” but a way of living that can guide them. But I do that by having other boys lead them to it.
Many people have heard the expression “my word is my oath” meaning “I am good for what I say and reliable” The Scout Oath and Scout Laws enable young boys to develop their lifelong oath, to be good young men, to lead others, care for themselves and their communities. It’s a long way from Fortnite seemingly 24 hours a day or YouTube videos until 1 o’clock in the morning or incessant texting, chatting and social media. It’s a journey worth taking and I am grateful you have brought your sons to the unit.
There are few things more complicated these days than pre-teen boys. At the age of 10, a boy is nearing the end of his childhood and entering into adolescence. 10 year old still primarily play with other boys, he has a group of friends, he is developing cognitive skills, maybe learning skills not so great like cursing, and the favorite word in their vernacular is “Why?” Throw on top of that an age of independence that is arriving and the excessive exposure to media and a 10 year old might drive a parent a little nuts.
From 11-13 the boys start experiencing teasing, sarcasm, bullying and is beginning puberty where all sorts of changes are happening that can make him seem like a raving lunatic. But I assure you, he’s just a boy. Around this time, girls come into a circle of friends, physical appearance becomes more important, and opinions are formed more from peer groups than parents. This is a critical point in the development of young men.
From 14-15 the boy is now immersed in the early years of high school, childhood seems left behind. He may be physically as tall as other adults, which makes parents wonder where that came from and bonds with parents loosen as the boy becomes smarter and more experienced and able to do things on his own.
And then 16-18 your baby boy is now a strapping young man, nearly fully grown, looking for a life after high school, possibly driving, holding down a first job and balancing a more complex social life.
The Patrol Method is an organizational approach to building Boy Scout Troops. The unit hierarchy includes Scouts grouped into similar stages of development known as Patrols. Patrols have their own identity developed by their members and leaders are selected by the members and all members have roles including Quartermaster, Grubmaster, Scribe, Webmaster, etc. Boys rotate through patrols and through leadership positions within patrols requiring them to work with and lead others in their peer group and sometimes others outside of their peer group including adults.
The Patrol Method is designed to challenge boys to lead, allow them to fail with minor consequence and challenge themselves to grow as leaders and adventurers making moral and ethical decisions working within their patrol.
Patrols are places where camaraderie forms, trust is earned by performing the roles and duties of each member of the unit and working through Scout laws like “Obedient” in terms of being a member of a team directed by a boy. Adult intervention is limited in the Patrol unit but guidance is given along the way. Do not be surprised when your son goes on a campout and they forgot to bring salt and pepper so they had bland food – that’s part of the learning experience and the experience of organizing and coordinating to achieve objectives.
A sample unit might look like the following:
Explain. Demonstrate. Guide. Enable.
Every Boy Scout has a handbook that is full of useful knowledge to have fun adventures in many types of outdoor activities. As Scouts progress, they are taught through the application of the EDGE method sometimes by adults, but often by other youth in Scouts. Empowering Scouts to be authoritative about their skills builds confidence and leadership and a willingness to help other Scouts achieve the same.
So this is how we do it – less adult intervention – boy lead, trained and enabled. During the critical growth years of your son, we hope you come to understand the 100 years of experience developing these methods and how we will work with your son to help him Be Prepared for anything and everything.