Of course the Boy Scout Slogan is to do a good turn daily. Most scouts and scouters know the story about how Boyce was first introduced to Scouting by the lone scout in the fog in London and was so impressed that he brought the movement back to the states.
Scouting has a long and storied history with service to others and one of the most significant, respected and well known facet of scouting is the Eagle Scout Project. So of course, we should have training that specifically focuses on service projects, right? Nope, not so much.
In our troop we’ve been focused on the Patrols earning the National Honor Patrol. One of the requirements for that is for the Patrol to work on a Patrol Service Project. Also, we have a good sized troop of about 50 scouts, so there are always scouts needing to work on Service Projects for rank requirements, and with the new Journey to Excellence award, the troop needs to focus on Service Projects. So… with all of that service going on, you’d think our program would specifically focus on this area, right? Nope, not so much.
Since becoming a Scoutmaster, it seems I’m coming across area after area in which we are supposed to focus, yet are deficient. This year, we’ve had a couple of scouts finish up their Eagle Projects and a couple more begin new ones. As the scouts begin working on their eagle projects I’ve noticed a trend in which they seem to be trying to begin to learn the project planning process which seems at odds with where I kind of expected them to be, which is putting in place all of the project management skills that they’ve been practicing over the years as Star and Life Scouts, right? Again, not so much.
Our troop allows scouts to serve out their service hour requirements by working with local charities, ministries, etc. Scouts really don’t have an opportunity to plan, develop or lead a service project until they get to the eagle project, and that’s a real shame and ultimately a disservice to the scouts, themselves.
This year as we put our annual plan together, I’ll be encouraging our Patrol Leaders to look for opportunities to plan and lead their own projects rather than serving as workers for someone else’s project.
We are also going to work on a training class in which go over the project management process in a way that prepares them for a scout project. To facilitate this, I’ve discovered this document on the Scouting.org website, which is a great resource to find stuff that you never new existed and should have probably had from the beginning during Scoutmaster training: Service Project Planning Guidelines 680-027
One of the other things that I can’t find a resource for, but will continue to look for or will just develop myself is how to plan a service project workday including getting volunteers, training, safety briefings, etc. Stay tuned for future posts to see what I come up with.