The start of a new school year was last week in our area. Which means – our first scout meeting of the year was this past weekend!
My most favorite time of the year!
I have been prepping the past few weeks for what this scout year would look like – from beginning to end – the activities and experiments, the lessons that would be taught and the discussions and growth that needed to be had.
I spent a lot of time on what the year would look like. Or rather what I want it to look like. On paper – this year is going to be epic (do the kids still say that?).
What I did not spend a lot of time on – is reality. I spent a lot of time in theoretical land. And seeing the BIG picture.
Not a whole lot of time on the finer details of how everything will be pulled off.
We have 2 hours worth of programming to fill. If you would have asked me last year – my first year as Akela/TW Leader – I would have been worried I wouldn’t have enough to fill the time. This year – 2 hours is definitely not long enough.
In theory – we start exactly on time, move thru opening ceremony and stretching pretty quickly so that all the bullet points on my intense (aka FULL) agenda – would be marked off.
In reality – Kids have lots of wiggles. Especially after the first week of school. And especially the first meeting of the year where expectations – for leaders and scouts – have not been set yet. Moving from one activity to the next is going to take more than 5 minutes (at least at this point in the year). And that adds up. So one activity (bullet point on the agenda) has to go. There is just not enough time during a 2 hour meeting for all the transitions and instructions and activities and fun.
Last year, we did not do a whole lot of walking at each meeting. Which came back to bite me/us. 3 months before the backpacking trip – panic started setting in.
This year – not only are we adding in a short hike at the beginning of each meeting – but we are also adding in 10 mins of stretching.
Come July 2020 – the TW’s this year are going to be prepared!
First meeting of the year? While the Scouts loved the little hike at this meeting, they needed a longer break time than I had scheduled. So we just rolled with it.
And that is OK. Because the most important part of being the leader – is not providing the lessons to teach the scouts skills – but to watch the non-verbal cues that scouts are relaying, and adjusting to them.
It gets you nowhere quick if you are overworking your scouts and they are thoughtlessly doing the activities/lessons because their brains are too tired/exhausted/overwhelmed/hot/etc to actually learn (and internalize) the activities/lessons.
But spending too much time in theoretical land was not my only mistake. I also did not spend a lot of time thinking how exactly to integrate new scouts to our pack.
In theory – I planned for a smooth integration. We had new Sixes with new 6ers and 2nds. I thought welcoming our new scouts – would be much easier than reality.
The plan was to have the new scouts stand off to the side during the Grand Howl to see what it looks like. And I intentionally did not assign the new scouts to any of the current Sixes. Once we were done with the Grand Howl – I did put each scout in to a temporary Six to finish the meeting with.
In reality – I completely forgot that not only should we show the new scouts how to do the Grand Howl, but I also should have broken down the movements and words to the new scouts. And for closing? Yeah – I completely forgot to have the new scouts stand off to the side. So when I had them all line up in their temp Sixes – they looked like deer in headlights.
I regret not spending enough time with each of the new scouts and walking them thru the process. Theoryland wanted me to get the meeting moving. Realityland – needed me to slow down and not go go go.
Because, even though my group is primarily comprised of returning scouts, it occurred to me after the meeting ended, that it would be beneficial to ALL scouts to go over Opening/Closing and What Pack Pack Pack means.
The first 90 minutes went fairly well, with a few hiccups. But I had completely lost control towards the end. Scouts wanted to play with their friends. Getting them to focus on the task at hand was rough.
Scouts were misunderstanding each other and a few were overwhelmed. Hindsight is 20/20 because next time we do the shelter activity – we will definitely split the scouts in to groups of 3-4 MAX!
As we wrapped up, closed the meeting, and as kids left – I went to check-in with our Group Scoutmaster (GSM). She knew what to say – “these kids just had to learn how to be students again; they will need time to learn how to be scouts again.” And those words could not be more true. Explained SO MUCH.
But I still regretted that I/we lost control of the scouts. I always worry that my scouts are not learning or having fun or don’t like how I lead.
Sometimes I do lay awake, replaying meetings over and over in my head, wondering if I am too strict or too controlling or not providing instruction well (Surprise! public speaking is not my strong suit!)
Before last year – my only experience leading/teaching a group of kids – was 1 year as an eager back-up assistant leader. Last year, my first year as the leader of the TW’s, I was more scared and nervous than this year.
This year – I am definitely excited yet overwhelmed. I am full of dreams and expectations.
Eager to teach my scouts, and learn from them.
While they are learning how to be scouts again, I need to remind myself that hiccups are going to happen. Because I also need to learn how to be a scout leader again.
Every meeting, I am learning something new on how to best lead this group of amazing scouts. This year is going to be amazing. We just have to get thru the hiccups and be patient. I need to slow down and pause and refocus/reorganize.
I am curious if this is how school teachers feel leading up to the new school year and during the first week….