Perhaps this article should be titled "Leaders - The Forgotten Link". Most of the emphasis of the Scouting program is on the youth, and rightly so. But, the crucial link between the youth and the program is, the Leader.
What is a Leader? In alot of cases, it is a parent, who has been talked into "helping out" with the section. In some cases, they move up a section or two, and in rare cases, they continue on as a Leader after their own children have finished in the Group. Why they continue is not a mystery. It is because they know that they are making a difference in the lives of the youth they lead.
There has been alot of talk about the Introductory Interview, and Essential Training over the years, but in most instances, these two facits of a Leader's career are passed by. This is due mainly to the fact that Leaders are hard to find, harder to keep, and no one wishes to "turn off" a new Leader by insisting upon these two elements. This may be fine, but somewhere we must attempt to "turn on" these new Leaders to the goals, aims and objectives of the Scouting program, and to show them just how worthwhile it is.
The main emphasis, of late, has been increasing our enrolment, keeping those numbers up, and maybe even giving the youth a better program. Unfortunately, the numbers do not rise by themselves, and the program doesn't run itself either. You can deliver a step-by-step program guide, but if the Leader is not able to carry it out, then the program will not succeed. However, a Leader who is knowledgeable, "turned-on" to the successes of Scouting, and able to create programs on their own, usually produces a successful program, and as a result, the numbers remain the same, or increase. Unfortunately though, these Leaders are hampered by others. If the Leader in the Section preceeding, is not nearly as capable, then the number of youth going-up to the next section will not be as large.
So, how do we excite these Leaders? The standard answer is - Train them. However, most of the Leaders that do not have any training have any one of several hundred excuses. Most of the excuses are valid, but alot are motivated by apathy. Again, how do you motivate? Seems a little circular, doesn't it.
One answer to this dilemma may be to bring the Trainers to the Leaders.
Yes, I know, this is alot of work for Trainers, but it takes dedicated Scouters to produce dedicated Scouters.
Hundreds of courses are cancelled every year due to the enrollment not being enough. How many is enough? The answer should be one. One more trained and dedicated Leader is more important. On numerous occassions, I have heard or overheard about training courses having been cancelled (sometimes again). The Leaders affected not only have rearranged their own personal schedules to attend, but also end up being disappointed. How much more work is then needed to undo the damage?
In summary, without trained, enthusiastic Leaders, our Scouting program will not thrive or survive. And survive it must do, as it is the only all-round youth program that also teaches and encourages decent moral behaviour. Our country, and our youth depend on it. Let's hit our 90th anniversary on a high.
Kevin D. Nickson - 58th Toronto Venturer Company - Sunnybrook
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