IN THE SAME BOAT: a blog for Scouts BSA parents (subscribe)
Updated February 5, 2019
If you have been active in Cub Scouts, you know that the den leader - a parent - plans and takes charge of each meeting. There may even be an assistant or other parents who help keep the kids focused on the meeting's activities.
Scouts BSA is entirely different. This is a youth-led program. A Senior Patrol Leader (SPL), who is a Scout, will call the troop meeting to order and lay out the activities for the next hour or so. There will be adults at the meeting - for example, the Scoutmaster, Committee members, parents hanging out, but they are not driving the meeting. On their website, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) specifically states that troop meetings “are not a family activity, and the presence of parents can be a distraction.” Part of the BSA's vision is to prepare youth to become leaders, so parents should step aside as much as possible at troop meetings, campouts and other Scouting events, and let their Scouts take on this role.
Sometimes this can be hard to do! Here is a great example from a troop meeting I was at recently. After the meeting was called to order, the SPL directed all the Scouts who were attending the upcoming campout to form patrol groups and plan their menus. These Scouts were busy the rest of the meeting. The SPL did not specify anything for the other Scouts to do.
Now, a Scout can always open his Scout Handbook, choose a rank requirement to work on, and then ask an adult at the meeting to test him on it. He'll be that much closer to achieving the rank.
What did these Scouts do for the rest of the meeting? Nothing! Except talk to one another.
Did the Scoutmaster or any of the other dozen adults present direct these Scouts to do something? No! Because that is not their job.
Did it drive me crazy to watch this unfold? Yes! But I bit my tongue and didn't say anything to my son.
This kind of situation really doesn't happen very often. And sometimes Scouts just want to relax and hang out with their friends, like the adults in the room were doing. There will be more opportunities for them to build their leadership skills, so don't worry about the few that go by the wayside.
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P.S. Do you wish being a Scouts BSA parent was a breeze? It is with the Smooth Sailing eGuide, Planner and Organizer for new and continuing Scout parents! Updated January 2020.