I joined the Scout Association as a Scout Leader just over 9 years ago, with no scouting experience, never camped in my life, I guess you could call me a Newbie Scout Leader. Too cut a long story short I signed up because I moved to London and wanted to make new Adult Friends and I knew I enjoyed spending time outdoors with Mother Nature.
With no Scouting experience, and the Leaders at me Scout group not that interested in handing down advice apart from my A.S.L, I was left alone to self-teach myself apart from the mandatory courses and modules I attended to achieve my Wood Beads.
I recently met some newbie Leaders who quizzed me for some “newbie tips”, so it gave me the idea for a blog post. So, I set the question to Scout leaders around the world
What 1 piece of advice would you tell a new potential Scout Leader who has no Scouting background/experience?
I compiled my Top 10 favourite pieces of advice *in no particular order*
- Get to know and have fun with your other leaders and assistant leaders because at some point you are going to have to trust and rely on them to have your back.
- Read POR and make your own choices if in doubt phone Gilwell.
- Don’t make things difficult for yourself. Some of the best programming doesn’t need hours of research or pages of printing.
- Get to know the kids then get them to help create the programme. A lot of leaders seem to forget we are a youth led organisation.
- If you’re not sure, ask.
- Remember to have fun.
- Find a mentor. Go visit other troops for ideas on how others do it.
- Save time. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Ask around. Whether its locally or go on line. Your likely to find what you are looking for or something to adapt to your Troop. Also ignore those with the thinking it must be done that way because we always have in the past. Change can be good.
- Explain what all the scoutie word mean! As a newbie it can be overwhelming. Patrol leaders, dc etc
- Ignore any piece of “advice” that starts with “Well, in my day…”
Here’s what advice fellow Scout Leaders suggested….
William I was a newbie with no scouting background/experience. I’d say don’t worry too much if you think you’ve made errors to begin with. It’s all a learning curve and there’s usually plenty of people that can help. I got the promise wrong on my first investiture. Used to worry about programme planning. Even things right down to running a meeting (I was thrown in at the deep end and put in as section leader straight away) but it was all un necessarily had lots of help from people in my group and also district level too.
Lea Get to know and have fun with your other leaders and assistant leaders because at some point you are going to have to trust and rely on them to have your back.
Tim Read por and make your own choices if in doubt phone Gilwell. Under no circumstances believe fellow experienced leaders, they mean well but most have not read por.
John Just get on and have fun
Laura “It’s life Jim, but not as we know it!” ….. the best bits will always last.
Sarah Remember to shout out to as many people as possible if you’re struggling with anything – everyone will try and help you along the way but are more likely to if you ask!!
James Your DC and ADCs are your friends – we want you to deliver the best scouting experience you can and we are here to facilitate that in whatever way we can and you need, so please talk to us.
Leander Don’t make things difficult for yourself. Some of the best programming doesn’t need hours of research or pages of printing.
Chris I’d say get your patrol leaders council up and running straight away. Talk to your PLs about what you would like to achieve. Plan one term at a time but delegate some activities and planning to your older scouts who know the scouts in troop and what they have done recently and what has worked well.
Mike Get to know the kids then get them to help create the programme. A lot of leaders seem to forget we are a youth led organisation.
Sarah If you’re not sure, ask.
Jennifer Remember to have fun.
Rebecca Explain what all the scoutie word mean! As a newbie it can be overwhelming. Patrol leaders, dc etc
Kiernan– Remember that the SCOUT METHOD is a method of SELF-EDUCATION for young people… You’re not a school teacher, you’re not always a leader… Your mission is to guide, suggest, support, advise and pick ’em up when they fall…
Jeff Embrace it don’t fear it and you will learn on the job
John It’s more than 2 hours a week.
Rob Try not to get dragged down in the politics. It gets to everyone in the end 🙁
Sarah SAY NO when you need to. It’s easy to want to please when you’re new, but you’ll end up taking on a large amount of work and responsibility if you don’t say no. If it’s a case of doing it anyway but you’ll struggle, make sure people will know that or what delays it’ll cause you.
Tim For Exploder leaders – Trust them. Treat them like adults.
Think big. Always keep a notebook and pencil to hand for those excellent programme ideas – especially in the pub…
Anthony There is no such thing as a “scouty” person.
I have had many new or potential leaders tell me they are concerned because they don’t identify as “scouty” – when you chat to them they are worried they need to be a sort of shorts-wearing, machete.
Lisa Rabin-Smith If you feel the group doesn’t fit for you or you’re not happy, don’t write off scouting. There’ll be a group you feel is home. Don’t be afraid to be strict – the young people will respect you as well as like you.
Claire The YP (young people) will test you. They will find the buttons to press. But be consistent with praise and consequences. They will get better.
Lesley Always have a sense of humour and remember what you were like at their age.
David What works for one, does not work for others.
Or one size does not fit all.
Debra Don’t forget to order badges otherwise when you get up to date. You realise your still behind.
Adam That what you do is for the kids not for the parents or yourself. Also, fun activities that aren’t tied to badge work are as important
Phil Don’t be ashamed to ask for advice and /or help.
Ann Have fun
Neil Find a mentor. Go visit other troops for ideas on how others do it.
Paul Enjoy yourself and have fun but keep it safe
Rebecca Save time. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Ask around. Whether its locally or go on line. Your likely to find what you are looking for or something to adapt to your Troop. Also ignore those with the thinking it must be done that way because we always have in the past. Change can be good.
Robin Flexibility. There’s room for all types of skill. New ideas welcome, not bound by traditions that you need to learn. Visit other groups to find out the variety of ways to do things. It’s fun.
Above all, ignore the bores, you really can make a difference even if you can only do 2 hours a week.
Tanya Don’t be afraid to ask for help – from other leaders, the youth, trainers, friends, family, everyone.
Even people who’ve been in Scouting for years need to keep learning. New techniques, new knots, new games, and sometimes just reinforcement of old ways to do things.
Susanne District camps, county campsetc are great opportunities to network with leaders from other troops, and to ask advice on problematic behaviour, good hike locations, Trangia recipes, etc.
Lee Your training advisor and ADC are your new best friends.
Mark Ignore any piece of “advice” that starts with “Well, in my day…”
Tanya Yup. Scouting is a movement, not a stagnation
Bethany The scouts that challenge you at the beginning will be the ones that give you the greatest satisfaction by the time they leave scouting (and you can’t please all parents)
Well there you have it, some amazing pievces of advice from Leaders all around the world, maybe youve heard some advice that hasnt been mentioned, f so, pop it in the comments box below this box.
If your after more Scouting related blogs, I have some more blog posts that you may find useful if your new to Scouting
- Why do I even Bother?!
- Describe Scouting in one word
- Whats the weirdest thing youve found left in a tent after camp?
- Why I love being a Scout Leader
Do you have any advice that hasnt been suggested? If so, comment below. I would love to know your advice for a newbie Scout Leader