The End or the Beginning?
Well, not too long ago, I turned 18. That means that I am 'officially' no longer a 'Boy Scout'. Wow! I can't believe how quickly time has flown! I joined when I was 13, and I still vividly remember so many of those early memories as if they were last year. I've made friends, learned a lot, and earned the rank of Eagle Scout. But now a certain era for me has ended.
What does that mean for me? Well, I am still active and involved with my Scout Troop. However, things can't be like they were when I was S.P.L. There is a transition from Boy Scout to Scout Leader, and that is what this post is about. In it, I share some of what I learned about this transition and what it means.
What does this mean for the blog? Well, the great news is that this isn't the end, rather, it is only the beginning! I have so much more that I have learned about Scouting and being a Scout that I want to share with you on this blog. And, you know, being a Scout doesn't end when you leave the 'Boy Scout' stage. Scouting is a set of life principles and an inner spirit, and the applicability to real life only increases the more you learn and grow.
In addition, I'm am still hard at work on the book "Scouting Rediscovered". If you're a long reader of the blog, you'll know I've been working on this for quite a while, but even though it's taken some time, great progress has been made. I am really looking forward to its completion!
Anyway, without further ado, on to the topic of transitioning from a Boy Scout to a Scout Leader!
Once a Scout, Always a Scout
The first thing to remember is that turning 18 isn't some magical switch that changes you in any way. Hopefully, you are continuing to strive to better yourself everyday as a Scout should, but this process is gradual: you'll still have many mistakes mixed in with your successes.
In your relationship with your Scout Troop, try to be as familiar with the Scouts as you were before. Above all, don't 'put on airs' and think yourself too 'old' or 'wise' to talk with the younger Scouts. As an older Scout, they will look up to you because of your age, wear that mantle of maturity as befits a true Scout. Don't lead the younger Scouts to mistakes by setting a bad example. Rather, use the power that you have as an older Scout to set an example that will inspire the younger Scouts to better themselves and their Troop.
Never lose that sense of adventure and service that is natural to the Scout.
From Leading to Training
If you stay active in your Troop (as I hope you will!), your specific role of leadership will need to change. It might be hard to not use all those skills you developed to micro-manage the Troop and make it look polished and perfect, but you must resist the temptation! As you continue to take those managing and leadership skills to the next level in other areas of your life, it is now your responsibility to develop a new set of leadership skills in your Scout Troop.
This set of skills is that of training the Scouts to lead. This is not easy by any means. It can be very hard to motivate others and to communicate what you have learned in a way that is easily understandable. You have to know when to throw in words of helpful guidance, and when to stand firm and let the Scouts feel the weight of responsibility on their own shoulders.
You haven't given up your vision and desire to make the Troop a “perfect Scout Troop”, you simply strive for that vision in a different way. Before, you were trying to manage things yourself, and make the perfect Troop by delegating and planning. Now, you should be making the perfect Troop by teaching the Boy Scout Leaders to lead for themselves. Think about what your Scoutmaster or parents could have done to help you grow your leadership skills, and apply that to the Troop.
Rank and Regalia
Finally, don't forget the opportunities which the Scout organization offers to Scout Leaders. There are courses to take such as Wood Badge. There are also many other opportunities to network with other Scout Leaders and learn from them. Not only can you learn a lot from these activities, you may also make connections which may prove very valuable in the long run.
Also, don't be afraid to take on a formal responsibility in your Troop. There is often a lack of adult leaders with enough time and energy to devote to running a Scout Troop. By becoming an Assistant Scoutmaster or becoming a member of the Unit Committee, you may do much to perpetuate the opportunity that you had and give a healthy Troop to other boys newly joining. You can officially help administer Boards of Review as well. Ask the Scoutmaster or other leaders what you can do to help, I'm sure they will be more than happy to have your assistance.
Depending upon how much you invested into the Troop while you were a Scout, the transition into an 'adult' Scout Leader can be rough. I know it has been difficult for me for a variety of reasons, but the most important thing to remember is this isn't an ending: it's a beginning. The older and more experienced you get, the more responsibility you have to pass that on.
However, I don't mean to say every Scout should try to become a Scoutmaster upon reaching 18. If you've read much of this blog, you know I strongly believe that Scouting is by no means restricted to the activities of a Scout Troop. So you are now 18, but although you're technically not a “Boy Scout”, you are still a Scout. There are many horizons to chase, there are many mountains to climb, there are many wildernesses that need to be explored. And it is your foremost responsibility as a Scout to find those horizons, to climb those mountains according to your own gifts and abilities.
If doing that includes volunteering with a Scouting Troop, all the better! But maybe that will involve focusing your energies somewhere else for a while. Whatever you do, though, always remember that you are a Scout. Wear that proudly, and never settle for less than what a Scout should stand for and strive after.
Have you recently become a Scout Leader? Or did you have a Scout in your Troop who made the transition? I would love to hear how the transition went. Have any advice, tips, or questions? Leave a comment in the box below!
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