Train’m, Trust’m, Let’m Lead. This was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever had to learn. It has also been the most rewarding.
When I first became a leader with Beavers, planning program was easy. You got to know your youth, asked them for some ideas, then got together with the other leaders and came up with a plan. In Cubs and Scouts the Sixers/Seconds or the Court of Honour gave input and started to help plan but the leaders still did a lion share of the work. When I moved to Venturers I discovered I was in a whole new ball game!
Here I was confronted with the idea that programming now was in the hands of the youth. Somewhere during the summer I was asked to shove over because we’re driving now! In fairness it didn’t actually happen like that, but it sure felt that way. Transferring in from Beavers to Venturers didn’t help either. I’d gone from hands-on leader to Advisor. Yep I was in the deep end now! Advisor. What did THAT mean?
Noun – ad·vi·sor1. One that advises, such as a person or firm that offers official or professional advice to clients.2. An educator who advises students in academic and personal matters.
Sounds fairly straight forward right? After a few deep breaths it occurred to me that maybe this wasn’t so bad after all. I could sit back and watch them do all the work for a change. I’d sit off to the side offering sage wisdom, drink a coffee, and tell a few jokes maybe. Hey, if I played my cards right I might even get my meals at camp cooked for me. This had potential.
Of course the first meeting didn’t happen like that (silly leader!). It turned out that the youth were just as lost as I had thought I was. Running the circus sounds fun, but when you are handed the ring masters hat and dropped into the centre ring the view from the stands looks a lot more appealing. The one thing that came out of that first meeting was that we where going to have to work together to make this work.
The solution we finally came up with was something we called diminishing leadership. We (the leaders) planned the first activity using it as a learning exercise. I wasn’t teaching Scout craft as much as teaching Leader craft. Gradually the Venturers took on more responsibility until they completely planned their last trip themselves. It was a long hard road to get them there, and full of challenges (isn’t that the Venturer motto?) but the feeling I had as I watched my Vents swimming in Algonquin Park was one of pride.
I first heard Train’m, Trust’m, and Let’m Lead from another Scouting blog The Scoutmaster Minute. To me it sums up being a leader of senior youth (older Scouts, Venturers, and Rovers). First we need to give them the skills. This not only includes scouting skills but also planning and organizing skills too. Then we need to trust them to use those skills. Believe me when I tell you that this is a hard thing to do. A wise leader once told me that the sign of a good scouter was the ability to know when not to say something! Sometimes you need to let them make mistakes.
Finally we need to let them lead. We as leaders are the “now” of Scouting. The “youth” are the future. Scouting has and is undergoing dynamic changes and the youth need to be part of this growth. We need to understand that they have as much invested in Scouting as we do.
As for us adults, we need to become something more than a leader. The word mentor comes to mind. Eventually the youth may leave Scouting, but if we do our jobs well, when their own children are old enough to join Beavers they will become the next generation of leaders.
Be safe, be prepared, and keep Scouting!