Recently, a Facebook post asked the open ended question about how the patrol method supports the mission of Trail Life USA.
The mission of TLUSA is stated on the organization’s main web page as “…to guide generations of courageous young men to honor God, lead with integrity, serve others, and experience outdoor adventure.”
When I consider the phrase “generations of courageous young men” I see a vision of multi-generational legacy, or “passing the torch” from one generation to the next.
The relationship between a Troopmaster (and his adult leadership team) with the youth leaders should support that multi-generational mindset. Ideally, what will have been learned as a youth member of TLUSA now, will be handed to the next generation in a matter of years. Sometimes that has the feel of a Father-Son relationship, and sometimes it may be more like older brother to younger brother.
Even BP said;
- “The Scoutmaster teaches boys to play the game by doing so himself.”
- “There is no teaching to compare with example.”
- “The Scoutmaster guides the boy in the spirit of an older brother.”
The translation of genuine excitement and enthusiasm of outdoor adventure is modeled for the boys as an example so that they will want to step up an run/own their program personally.
Adults need to work on refining the line that separates “running things for the boys” from “guiding and enabling” the boys to run things for themselves.
- “Scouting is a game for boys under the leadership of boys under the direction of a man.”
- “An invaluable step in character training is to put responsibility on the individual.”
- “See things from the boy’s point of view.”
- “If you make listening and observation your occupation you will gain much more than you can by talk.”
- “When you want a thing done, ‘Don’t do it yourself’ is a good motto for Scoutmasters.”
- “The more responsibility the Scoutmaster gives his patrol leaders, the more they will respond.”
When the adult team is able to blend into the background (almost vanishing, except to provide the occasional nudge for safety’s sake) then the boys can fully incorporate the experience, understand the power of selfless service and sharing of leadership responsibility from a Primus-Inter-Pares perspective. THAT is what will be passed down from generation to generation, along with the urgent desire to glorify God in all that we do (1 Cor 10:31; Col 3:17, 1 Cor 10:23-33) and that we always Walk Worthy.
To the extent that your adult leadership team never participated in a formal “scouting” program as young men, they can learn alongside their sons! I remember a new leader “boot camp” training program that taught all of the essential outdoor skills over a 2.5 day weekend. Once done, the team had lived the life of a functioning patrol, learned the skills to master the requirements of a trailman and gotten insight into how to teach those skills to young men as well. This sort of event (EQUIP Weekends) can help jumpstart a life of loving the outdoors, and prepping for the multi-generational commitment.