Putting It All Together
The first recommendation is to review all the pages on this wiki site. The next recommendation is to set some ground rules so that circular conversations do not occur and emotions stay in check. Our experience has been that circular conversations occur when two people use the same vocabulary but have different experiences or definitions. We cannot emphasize how critical it are to be clear and concise using examples to base your conversations.
Emotions… this is tough. Everyone involved from scouts, parents, adult leaders, committee members…etc. have a vested interest in the troop. The easiest way we have found to keep things in check is to focus on the scouts. Keep asking yourself, am I behaving properly in front of the scouts or on the scout’s behalf. The challenge becomes in that people will disagree. The result needs to be consensus and that it is ok to disagree.
Operationally, BLT is about the flow. Some examples of flow are the scout’s growth from year to year, the flow of the information to the parents and scouts, the flow of the planning information during the four meeting Outing Planning process. The SM and SPL need to think and plan for how they are going to consistently facilitate the various flows throughout the year. Consistently is a key term, scouting is a year long program. We have found the Senior Patrol members take turns leading the troop throughout the year. We averaged three different leaders depending upon what sport was occurring or school activity. By understanding the processes listed in this wiki site and formulating a plan for how to flow the information for planning, you will have a good foundation to operate the troop.
Plan, Plan, Plan is the motto of the SPL’s and their teams. Learning how to think ahead, be proactive and grow their ability to take a strategic approach is one of the greatest values of the program for the scouts. The larger the Troop, the more critical and longer it takes to socialize all the critical information to the scouts and their families. Having a strong relationship between the Patrol Adult Advisors and their 3 Deep Patrol Leadership is key to the success of the planning. It doesn’t take to many disorganized events before the scouts realize they have more fun and a lot less stress if they plan ahead. To help this along, hold training at the PLC Meetings on how to plan. This will reinforce planning behavior. This is a hard skill to master. Think of it as hand dipping a wax candle. How many times do you need to dip the string for a candle to be made? 5, 10, 15… each time you review, more wax will stick to that string. The two core processes to train on are Troop Meeting Planning and Outing Planning. If your PLC has a fundamental understanding of these core processes, they will have a good foundation to run the troop’s operations.
For a basic BLT foundation, if you accomplish a good understanding of operations as describe above and can plan leveraging the Troop Meeting Planning and Outing Planning, you’ll have the basic BLT foundation in place. From this foundation, work with the Scouts and have them start adding to the operations and evolve the troop to the level of their leadership. Over the years, the scout’s leadership skills as a unit will increase. Have fun and encourage the scouts to continue to evolve and take on more. As the Troop’s demographics change, you will see a fluctuation in the amount the scouts take on.
Like ocean tides, there will be a constant change in leadership abilities from year to year. This is why we say the focus is at the Patrol Level. Organizationally, this is the most consistent area of the troop in terms of leadership transition from year to year. The SM working with his Patrol Adult Advisors as a good team is the safety net for BLT. With the patrol leadership functioning well, accountability is placed on the Senior Patrol and JASMs to better support them and lead by example.
Each troop is different; each scouting year has a different cast of characters. The secret for making BLT work is to define a game plan your Troop believes in and execute so it meets your needs. If it works for you, then consider it a success. Trying to provide you with a formula for success will not work. Your success will come from your socializing and consensus building around your troop’s vision of BLT. This site’s intent is to be a guide and pass long best practices/lessons learned. We have tried to provide some examples to help avoid circular discussions mentioned at the start of this page.
In closing this page, what I can personally share is that the reward of seeing scout’s leadership in action is well worth the trials and tribulations of transforming the troop to be fully boy led.