I was forwarded the new Garrigan/Lyman promo video which focuses on the summer camping program at Camp Parsons. As usual, it was well done though I probably would have picked some different scenes than the ones that are shown. I initially thought that Tim Garrigan put this together because of my mini-rant about how Camp Parsons was seemingly down played in the council camp video that was shown at the downtown breakfast about a month ago. Then again, I think he is doing promos for all the camps, so it couldn't be due to that. As I watched the video something stood out.........no adults. Well, not completely true; they had a shot of the Scoutmaster belly-flop where adults knowingly injure themselves for the scouts amusement and another shot where a bunch of adult leaders jumped in to help their respective troops in a tug-of-war. That was it though, only our staff members and scouts running and participating in the program and having fun doing it.
This stood out to me as adults seem to dominate most other scout videos that I have seen. Through our interactions with other camps and spending a lot of time at NCS, I have seen numerous promo videos of other camps both at the council and national levels. Sure it shows scouts (always in uniform...like they really participate in mountain biking, fifty milers, etc in full class "A" uniforms) having fun, but it also shows the staff leader of a particularly area being a 40, 50 or 60 year old man. There is nothing wrong with us old folks directing programs but I think there is something really wrong when we inject ourselves into the program. In these videos the "old" guys are telling scouts what they will be doing in the program area and being their teacher/instructor/educator for the particular area while the younger staff seem to stand back. Wrong! That is not the program folks. Baden-Powell was right "Scouting is a game for boys under the leadership of boys under the direction of a man." Direction does not mean "hands-on". Baden-Powell made this clear; "When you want a thing done, 'Don't do it yourself' is a good motto for Scoutmasters. If you have ever been to Camp Parsons, you will see Ken and I scramble to get away from the program and observe it from afar. When I talk, I talk to adult leaders, parents; I never talk to the scouts unless it something like "How are you Scout"...."How's it going sport" as I quickly pass them. That is why I hire a young staff, they are the face of the program in action.......and I direct the staff. Now I understand the challenges. Many camps cannot recruit people who are 21 to be Aquatic Directors or Shooting Sports Directors or any other position that mandates an adult and so they have to rely on volunteers who are usually retired folks who love scouting. Sometimes this is necessary and we have been in that position at various times in the past. However what we try to do is minimize the interaction with the adult and focus the presentation and education of the scouts by our younger staff. They don't need an old guy to be a role model; the scout needs to see someone several years older than they are and want to be like them.
The vast majority of adult leaders get this as the vast majority of adult leaders are part of the overall program because their son is in the program. Once the son moves on, so do they. However there are a number of us who stick around because we believe in the program and want to continue to give back to the program what we got from it. I think that is great, but we must never forget that the focus is on the scout, not our desires or wants. We have no business being in front of scouts other than to give direction then stand back and let the young leaders do their jobs. Scouting is a game with a purpose; one that builds character in a boy that will help him make moral decisions for the rest of his life. Let's stand back and let the program work, and if you need me......I will be in my cabin.