Scouts Join for Fun
Fun, fun and more fun! That's why boys join Scouting. When and if Scouting ceases to be fun and thus satisfy their interest they quit the Troop. Wouldn't you? This need for fun, then, must be met, and Troop leaders supply it through games and Scout ways for teaching requirements, and Scoutcraft.
Scout Ways Defined
Scout ways are recreational methods of teaching and reviewing Scouting requirements, ideals and principles by means of games, competitions, stunts, dramatics, etc. Some Scout ways are games, others are devices for teaching and practicing Scout requirements.
Scout Ways Stimulate Advancement
Naturally, Scouts like to advance, but all too frequently what happens instead? Many Scouts fail to plan, their intense initial interest gradually cools to lukewarm, they fail to work diligently and advancement comes to a standstill. Try to combat this tendency. Do everything possible to take the sting out of work and some of the drudgery out of study. How? By using Scout ways you can develop joyousness in both work and play. Trust a Scout with a definite responsibility and, if necessary, keep after him You will discover that the more he loves play the more vigorously he tackles the job, if only to get it over with, so that he has time for his much desired fun.
Cooperation of Scoutmaster and Scout
Scoutmasters sometimes frown on Scout ways of teaching. Unconsciously they lean toward the old idea that medicine must be bitter to be effective, but Scouts, naturally, want some of the sweet along with the bitter. This is not meant to suggest a sugar-coated diet as the remedy, for the solution is a program which instead of overlooking work, balances it with play.
A Lesson from Cub Scout Advancement
Advancement in Cub Scout Packs, where parents cooperate with Pack leaders is gratifyingly rapid. But visit a Troop where the Scoutmaster is working practically alone and is the one adult source of motivation and inspiration in the Troop. Doesn't he look discouraged as he tells you advancement is slow? If outside help, then, seems indispensable to success, be a progressive Scoutmaster. Secure help. Secure it in the following ways:
Following Up on Scout Ways
When using Scout ways concentrate on major subjects for at least one month at both indoor and outdoor meetings. Don't be misled, Scouts can play games relating to such subjects as ideals, knots, first aid, nature, signaling, etc., but this does not complete the subject. It's only the beginning, for no Scout way is all sufficient. But lose no time in building on this foundation, on this interest which Scout ways will create.
Things to Do
A Sample Scout Way of Reviewing
Scout ways are used for either teaching or reviewing. A sample of reviewing follows: Patrols are lined up in relay fashion. A hat is placed in front of each Patrol. Each hat contains cards upon which the names of Tenderfoot knots are written, one on each card. In relay fashion, beginning with the Scout at the head of his Patrol, each Scout runs to the hat takes out a card and ties the knot named on the card. Then he runs back and touches off the next player, who repeats the performance, etc.
It is assumed in this type of review that everyone knows the knots and no time is taken in advance to teach or review them.
How to Use Reviews
1. Apply Scout ways of reviewing to subjects which are reasonably familiar to all Troop members.
2. When possible give participants a chance to review a subject by announcing the Scout way at least one week in advance.
A Sample Scout Way of Teaching
Suppose your Troop has decided to devote one month to signaling, and a leader has been selected (not necessarily the Scoutmaster). At a PLC* meeting the leader would present a skeleton program for the month and details of the first meeting. Following this brief discussion he would assume that some of the boy leaders were not familiar with certain code symbols so he would teach those letters much as he would expect the Patrol Leaders to teach them to their Scouts. Next he would demonstrate one or two games just as he expected the Patrol Leaders to lead them at either a home Patrol meeting or the Troop meeting.
The PLC Your Most Important Tool
Study the Skeleton Troop Meeting Program in the HSM. Notice that Scout ways, contests, games, dramatizations and demonstrations are included in seven of the eleven periods. The last period calls for a PLC meeting after the close of every Troop meeting. Some Scoutmasters find this difficult and think the PLC meeting should be held on a separate evening. Here is a suggestion: Immediately after the closing ceremony of your Troop meeting ask everyone who will attend the PLC meeting to fall out and hurry to the PLC meeting place - usually a corner of the room. Then say "Good Night" to the rest of the Scouts and dismiss them. If any Scout wishes to remain to go home with his friend, a member of the Council, invite him to attend as a spectator. You will be surprised at how much you can accomplish in fifteen or twenty minutes.
Interview Boy Leaders
Keep yourself free during the pre-opening period and check up with the leaders before the Troop meeting begins. Insist that every Troop leader who is to have charge of an activity be there early if he needs help from you. If you fail to check up in advance, be prepared for disappointments.
Introducing Scout Ways
Start with a Scout way of teaching one of your favorite subjects. In the PLC meeting set a good pattern for your Patrol Leaders to follow. In the Troop meeting move from Patrol to Patrol helping leaders off to a good start and retire to the background as the boy leaders improve. The time may come when you can do most of your leading from behind the scenes in PLC meetings. That's the ideal.
Use as Few Words as Possible
Beginners frequently use lengthy introductions. Their explanations are confusing, ending with, "Now, are there any questions?" And the questions add more confusion. The place for questions is in PLC meetings, where you encourage boy leaders to ask questions so that they may know the answers.
Get In or Stay Out
If you get into a game, play it for all you are worth and lead it the best you know how. If someone else is leading, let him lead alone. If you note errors, discuss them later.
It is no disgrace to use notes. Use them in your PLC meetings and suggest that Patrol Leaders do likewise in their meetings.
Do Not Overdo
After a Scout way has been used successfully to teach a particular subject, do not use it again for months, or even for a year.
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Last modified: October 15, 2016.