Lessons and Suggestions on Boy-Run troops
(Excerpts from "Boy Run Troops Part II" by Barry Runnels, edited by Chuck Boblitz)

 

While scouting is for boys, it is under the guidance of adults. The adult's control 100% of the direction of the Troop, and it is their responsibility to develop a boy-run program. This may seem complicated but it really isn't. Guidance, Vigilance from a distance, Patience, Understanding the boys point of view, Trust in your skills as a trained leader, Trust in the Boy Scout program as it was designed by the BSA, and Trust in the boys themselves, are the 7 keys for adults helping to foster a Boy Run Troop.

Here are some habits that help a troop grow towards a boy run program.

 

There are some clear signs of when adults are over-involved in running the troop:

 

Who sets the time to wake up or lights out, adults or scouts?

Who picks the places to set up the tents, tarps and eating area?

Who sets up the times to eat, and program activities?

Who loads the Troop trailer, and who says when it's time to go?

Who counts the scouts in the cars to make sure everyone is there?

Who decides what kind of camping gear the troop should buy?

Who decides when it's time to go home from the campout?

Having a boy-run program is simply giving boys trust to manage their activities and actions in the troop. Imagine everything you the scouts to do without them standing in the room. That could be as little as just saying the pledge of allegiance, or as much as letting the SPL run the whole Troop meeting. Imagine a circle defining that area of trust. That circle is your boy run program. The area outside the circle is the area where the scouts grow in their struggle, and we adults grow in our trust that the scouts can manage their actions without our guidance.

That circle is worth little if its limits never expand or grow. We adults must push the limits of the circle so the boys grow in their ability to manage life's skills. This takes courage from the scouts, to keep trying and learn from new experiences. It also takes courage from the adults to let the scouts go beyond their limits (our limits!) so they struggle in their troop responsibilities and become motivated to learn the skills to ease their struggle.

An adult-run troop is not necessarily one with a small circle of trust. An adult-run troop is one where the adults are not comfortable allowing the circle to grow, because they are afraid of failure.

Allowing our boys to struggle in their activities is not natural for a parent. We want to make it easier even up to the point of holding their hands. But our scouts are young men on the verge of being sent out into an unforgiving world. Scouting is where they will learn the skills of men in a safe and controlled environment.

Your goal should be that every scout and every adult goes home saying, "I like Myself when I am with the Troop".

Teach the adults how to watch and recognize the moments when the earth moves. You know, when the young scout's eyes get big because he figured out how to tie a knot. Those times when the Patrol all of a sudden acts like a patrol instead of animals scurrying around. The day the SPL runs the perfect PLC meeting or the Troop meeting goes off without a hitch. I remember once when an ASM and I watch the Troop break camp and load the trailer in 30 minutes. It was perfect. We looked at each other and said, well it's time to raise the bar on breaking camp, but we were smiling at the moment.

A boy run program requires a lot of work from both the adults and scouts, but the rewards are worth bragging about. For the Troop to be successful, both the adults and scouts have to grow in the program. Real growth is slow and unexpected. One day you are looking at a confused boy wondering how he can manage his Patrol of yelling, rambunctious boys. Then it seems like all of a sudden, a much taller version of the same scout is inviting you to attend his Eagle COH. "How in the world?" you wonder. But while we give all the credit to the will of a boy, let's give a little credit to the adults who had the courage to stand up and get out of his way.

 

11/02/02 BR/cwb