"Giving responsibility is the key to success with boys, especially with the rowdiest and most difficult boys"

-Robert Baden-Powell

Scout Led

Every Troop says their Scout or Boy Led....  What does that really mean? 

One of the major differences between Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts is the very important method, leadership development. In order to teach leadership, you have to let the boys lead. In fact, one of the more vigorous debates you can have in Scouting is over the feasibility of a scout-led troop. Some adult leaders will argue that while a scout-led troop is the BSA ideal, itʼs not possible in their particular troop for any or all of the following reasons:

A scout-led troop is more work for the adult leadership, and therein is the problem, and our need for your cooperation and help. It is so much easier for the adults to just take charge themselves than to teach the necessary leadership skills to the boys.

All Scoutmasters and Assistant Scoutmasters are taught the basics of a scout-led troop and patrol in Scoutmaster Specifics. However putting that training into practice is often difficult without a mentor in the troop.  The importance of a scout-led troop and patrol is emphasized in two chapters of the Scoutmasterʼs Handbook; chapter 3 “The Boy-Led Troop” starts with this strong statement:

“Empowering boys to be leaders is the core of Scouting. Scouts learn by doing, and what they do is lead their patrols and their troop. The boys themselves develop a troop program, then take responsibility for figuring out how they will achieve the goals. One of our most important challenges is to train youth leaders to run the troop by providing direction, coaching and support. The boys will make mistakes now and then and will rely upon the adult leaders to guide them. But only through real hands-on experience as leaders can boys learn to lead.”

As mentioned before, perhaps the most common reason for the existence of adult-led troops is that it is easier for the experienced adult leaders to run things; teaching leadership to scouts is not easy. A second common reason is that the adult leaders may be afraid of failure; they want a smooth running troop. A scout-led project will occasionally falter, and adults may feel it necessary to take over to ensure success. A third is that the troop may have adult leaders that do not delegate well, and do not wish to give up control.  In fact, many consider that the main barriers to a scout-led troop come from the attitudes within the adult leadership. 

What is Scout led not?

A Scout led unit has a structure & a process

Signs of a Scout Led Troop

What are the results?

Warning signs adults are taking over

Signs of an adult-led troop

If you see these signs at your troop, ask yourself why the adult, and not the scout leaders are doing these things. If you are a scoutmaster, consult with your SPL outside of the meeting/outing times about how things can change to make it scout-led. And when the meetings and outings occur, except for Safety Monitoring and Discipline beyond that the SPL can handle, just watch, listen, and use that for feedback for the SPL after the event ends.

"The more responsibility the Scoutmaster gives his patrol leaders, the more they will respond."

-Robert Baden-Powell