There’s an old saying that’s been around forever, SCOUTING CAN BE SPELLED IN THREE LETTERS: F – U – N.
When a youth joins Scouting, he or she makes a covenant with you. This is supposed to be fun. That’s why they join. It is your job to provide the fun. If you provide the fun, they’ll do things your way (i.e., obey the rules of behavior). Partly this is because they’re happy and busy; partly this is because they fear to be excluded from the fun if they act up. In any case, troops who are delivering the fun rarely have to expend too much effort in disciplining youth.
But if you don’t provide the fun, then they will find ways to make their own fun, and you may not like the ways they find. And it doesn’t do any good to get mad at them for doing stupid stuff or getting into trouble; they’re just trying to fulfill the original covenant with you that this was going to be fun.
So, why is it the leader’s job to make it fun? Because it is the leader’s propensity to cancel programs, to withhold recognition, to bog down meetings with boring stuff, etc., that keeps promising the jam but never delivering it TODAY.
As a leader in church youth ministry as well as Scouting ministry, I have always said that “Ninety percent of all problems in youth ministry are adult-generated.” It is adult schedule conflicts, adult organizational and communication skills (or lack thereof), adult failure to treat every promise as sacred, adult conflicts with other adults, and adult committee snafus that typically get in the way of the group delivering the program. And while the adults call Time Out to unsnarl themselves or wait for inspiration to strike, the Scouts are left waiting. But they won’t wait forever.
We would like to thank our guest writer Art Collins for contributing this valuable insight.
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About the author . . .
Art Collins has been in Scouting, man and boy, for over fifty years. He has led many different units and many different programs. As an ordained minister in The United Methodist Church, he has fostered Scouting as ministry in local congregations, as well as at the Conference and General Church level. His current Scouting position is as the International Representative for Hoosier Trails Council and as a member of the Council Executive Board. His current ministry position is Retired.