Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Scoutmaster Mike: Finding the Happy Medium

I came to a realization last night, and its one that made me feel a little strange. I’ve been too quiet as of late. Say what?! Dude, you are *never* quiet! Well, that may be, but what I realized was that I have gone from communicating too much to the families, and making a conscientious effort to tell them *everything*, to pulling too far back and not communicating enough.

One of my most conscientious Scouts called me last night and asked if we were meeting. I found it to be a strange question… it’s Tuesday, absolutely we are meeting, and I said as much. However, after I hung up the phone, I realized something. If he called wondering if we were, what did that mean for many other families that weren’t calling me? Thus, with that reasoning, I decided to see how many of our scouts would be there tonight. It was a sparse evening, just five of our regular scouts were there, out of the usual ten that attend. I asked the kids if there was anything special going on with school or other programs, and they said no, not that they were aware of.

We had a good time playing virus ball and steal the bacon, as well as planning what we will do the following week, but I came to the realization that, if I don’t communicate what is happening, there’s little chance that the excitement level or interest will rise in the boys. Carry that over several weeks, and then just about anything that comes along can pull them away, because as far as they know, either it’s the same old same old, or nothing is really happening, even if it is. Perception is 100% reality in this case.

On the flip side, when I communicate everything to people I get lots of times where I’ve asked for information, commitments, etc. and have not received responses. When I query them back, the reply invariably is “oh yeah, I get so much of that stuff I just ignore most of it"… meaning that too much information is almost as bad as too little, because they don’t know what they should be doing with what I’m sending to them.

So I’m going to try something different now. Before I used to communicate with everyone, or just the SPL, about what we were doing. Now I’m going to try to have a calendar and notification system that tells what is going on, and encourage projects for each youth member to take on and plan. This way, when they have a stake in what is happening, and they know well enough ahead of time what it is they are doing, then they can make appropriate plans and, likely, be there to enjoy the meetings and have a renewed involvement.

The trick is… how we can communicate what we are doing without overwhelming everyone and burying them in too many details? This is something I’ll have to experiment with over the next few weeks, but one thing is for sure. I’ve got to talk more (OK, you can all laugh at that, I totally understand (LOL!) ).

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