Work With Me Here

Ideas from the field: Tips for earning cooperation and respect.

Illustration by Darren Thompson

Scout A.S. and his fellow junior leaders are outnumbered by the younger guys in their troop. Because of this, the older Scouts have trouble getting the younger members of their troop to follow instructions. He asked for ideas for gaining cooperation and earning respect.

Give a Reason
Make the consequences clear. Say, "We don't get into the cars until the pots are clean." Make sure that the adults will back you up. This isn't a punishment; it's about not getting sick the next time the pots are used.

Lead from the front. When you're cleaning latrines at summer camp, the leader should be the one with the toilet brush.

Always be doing more and helping. If you're sitting in a chair and ordering people around, they'll resent you, not follow you. Help Scouts get their tents set up right. Show how to clean the pots.

Assistant Scoutmaster W.U.
Palo Alto, Calif.

Leaders, Not Bosses
If you want some respect, show some. We don't have bosses in the BSA; we have leaders. Ask yourself a few questions: Am I setting a good example? Am I leading from the front? What motivates the younger Scouts in our troop?

A lot of leadership is trial and error. You need to find the tool that motivates those you're trying to lead. My best advice is to be a great example and treat the younger guys with as much respect as you want from them.

Don't be afraid to pitch in when it's time for camp chores. The younger Scouts notice that, and it goes a long way toward winning respect.

Scoutmaster J.S.
Troutdale, Ore.

Mentor, Teach, Befriend
The newer Scouts will be the new leaders in your troop when you've gone off to college. In order for your troop to continue, they need to acquire leadership and Scouting skills, just as you have learned. Start by mentoring the new Scouts, befriending them, and teaching them something you know. Continue to support them and teach them something new and interesting at each meeting or outing. You may find you have a friend for life.

Assistant Scoutmaster B.W.
Florissant, Mo.

Lead From the Top Down
When boys first join our troop, they're told, with their parent present, that the adult leadership will not tolerate disrespect. Telling the parents and Scouts ahead of time that the Scoutmaster rules the troop with an iron fist—yet lets the boys lead the troop—has built a relationship where the boys end up learning to respect themselves and others.

Scoutmaster S.O.
Albany, Ga.

Ask, Don't Tell
Rather than telling Scouts to do something, ask them what they think needs to be done next. Then ask them to help you get the job done that they identified. Sometimes you may have to guide them to a better choice, but often you'll find they know what needs to be done, and they will appreciate your giving them the opportunity to have a say in the decisions.

For more tips, check out the BSA's Senior Patrol Leader Handbook and Patrol Leader Handbook.

Skipper A.L.
Normal, Ill.

Help Them Do Their Best
Youth leaders need to understand that their role is not one of giving orders but setting an example and giving assistance to the younger Scouts. They need to behave as they would like others to behave, be open and accessible, and not be the "too cool for you" patrol. Keep in mind that a leadership role—even a de facto role where older Scouts help younger ones—is one of service to others and helping others do their best, not merely telling others what to do.

Troop Committee Chair F.M.
Novi, Mich.

Show Your Stuff
Show the younger boys that you guys really do know what you're doing. Pick something you know they can't do and do it in front of them. Explain to them that you were once in their shoes and the only way that you got where you are now is by listening to and trusting the older boys and allowing you to teach them new things. Work with them one on one and get personally acquainted with them so that you can form a relationship that eventually bridges the age gap.

Assistant Cubmaster T.H.
Lexington, S.C.

Exercise Equality
Treat the others as equals in Scouting, but be a teacher of skills, knowledge, and ideas to help them advance and enjoy their Scouting experiences. It's hard at first, but you will win in time.

District Advancement Chairman L.B.
Beaver Crossing, Neb.

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May - June 2011 Table of Contents