D.B. said that if his Scouts get wound up at troop meetings, it’s hard to calm them down. Readers suggested planning plenty of interesting activities to capture the Scouts’ attention.
Sometimes when we get very wild, the adult leaders have us play a short game, hoping that we will release our bottled-up energy. Our leaders never use negative things like putting a Scout in a corner or otherwise humiliating him.
First, have something planned for every meeting and start the meeting on time. Scouts will quickly get bored and restless if they have to sit and wait for leaders to come up with something for them to do. Early arrivals will get restless if they are told, “We are waiting for a few more to show up before we start.”
Always have a planned secondary activity in your back pocket for those meetings when a scheduled speaker cancels at the last minute or the person responsible for the night’s activity doesn’t show up.
If Scouts become rowdy, we ask, “What would happen if you acted this way in school?” We explain that adult leaders and their fellow Scouts deserve the same respect as their teachers. Finally, if you have a Scout who is virtually uncontrollable, you have to insist a parent or guardian accompany him to troop meetings and activities.
During planning sessions, the patrol leaders’ council should brainstorm ways to make troop meetings more interesting to Scouts who might be losing interest. Most young kids have a tendency to lose interest in activities that last more than 30 minutes. If the adult leaders guide and mentor the senior patrol leader and the patrol leaders in following an “ideal” troop meeting plan, and if the adults provide hands-on “tender, loving care,” this may reduce the chaotic appearance of a meeting.
A troop’s adult leaders and senior patrol leader can gather ideas and information at the monthly Scout leaders’ roundtable on how to target activities for the age and skill level of Scouts who have trouble concentrating.
A Scout who disrupts a meeting by clowning around may not understand the meeting’s topic and know little, if anything, about it. He may be afraid of making a mistake or failing in front of his peers.
Or perhaps he just can’t sit still. This is where adult leadership comes in. Every troop has something that needs to be done — inventorying gear, cleaning up troop boxes or some other little project. Assign the troublesome Scout to work on the project with an older Scout and a couple of adult leaders.
Giving the Scout some personal attention and a little patience may boost his confidence and give him a better understanding of what’s going on within the troop.
Scoutmaster B.G.N. Jr.
As is usually the case with such questions, D.B.’s problem is discussed in Scouting’s literature. The Scoutmaster Handbook covers the subject in a section called “Inappropriate Behavior” on page 129. It suggests that the troop’s youth leaders can usually end disruptions. It also includes some advice if the older kids can’t handle the problem.
Troop Committee Member J.S.
Los Angeles, Calif.