We have noted that when some children join scouts their lives are very busy with school activities and/ or family activities. As a result they are not able to attend many scout functions and they often lose interest or become frustrated and leave scouts. Because of the lack of interest, they can also become disruptive influences or merely a negative influence in the troop which affects other scouts. To truly benefit from what scouts can offer, a level of commitment is required. This may mean the child and the parents re-evaluating what is important and/ or enjoyable in the their lives and what the priorities are and making choices based on those priorities.
Scouts is not just an hour or two a week. There are many outdoor activities over weekends which is where the true learning, experience and enjoyment is to be found. A scout who is unable to attend most of this activities will not get the full benefit of scouts and is unlikely to stay at scouts. The troop also expects scouts to make steady progress through the levels of advancement, attend badge courses and increasingly, as the scout becomes older, there will be an expectation that the scout will plan, organise and run certain activities. These are all time consuming activities and largely take place over weekend. The time consumed is not just for the scout. Parents and families may also have to adjust their lives accordingly.
We encourage parents and scouts to evaluate the relative importance to them of scouts and extra-mural activities and seek to strike a balance. The southern suburbs contains some of the best schools in the country which offer a great many activities outside of school hours. Scouts offers a very different experience to that of schools but to fully gain the beneﬁt it is necessary to give certain level of commitment and time to scouts in just the same way that to get the benefit of the fine schools that surround us, there must be a level of commitment. It is important maybe to remember that the commitment at schools is often more required than voluntary. The commitment to scouts is entirely voluntary.
A few years ago, a prominent school in the southern suburbs surveyed their parents and asked what the school was not teaching their children. The most common answer was “Leadership” as a result of this the school instituted a week long program to teach leadership for a particular age group. Scouts, by contrast offers, as just one facet of our program, a continuous 7 years of leadership training and practise, individually tailored. While not every scout will become a patrol leader, every scout will get multiple opportunities to learn and exercise leadership. These opportunities increase with advancement levels as greater leadership and organisational skills are required at higher advancement levels.
We are confident that scouts offers something that schools cannot but to get that something the commitment of time and effort is required. We ask that parents, families and scouts evaluate their lives, the importance of scouts against other activities and make a conscious choice, if that is the decision, to commit time and effort to scouts.