Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Power of Guest Presenters

One of the most overlooked methods of Scouting is adult association. That's right, one of the tools we use to achieve our goals is quite simply interaction with adults. One reason for this is undoubtedly the diminishing impact of parents as a young man enters his teen years. The role of bishoprics and adult advisors often grows in importance as the young man seeks to express his independence and demonstrate his separation from his parents. The other adults can play a key role as righteous examples and influencers for good.

In the Scouting program, we're familiar with the concept of merit badge counselors (and consultants in the Venturing program). But how often do we think of these individuals as mere subject matter experts for a topic that the Scoutmaster doesn't know much about? In reality their role, and their possible impact, is much greater than that, as they become an exension of the young men's organization. Perhaps a merit badge counselor should be selected as carefully as any other leader of youth, and perhaps the choice of merit badge counselor would vary depending on the young man in question.

In addition to expanding our boys exposure to righteous adults, merit badge counselors offer an effective way to keep Scout programs interesting. A new face in your Troop meeting might be able to keep the attention of the young men in a way that the Scoutmaster can find difficult, especially if the topic is somewhat dry. Guest presenters and merit badge counselors bring a variety of presentation styles and techniques, and should be encouraged to teach in their own way. The power of this sort of variety shouldn't be underestimated.

So, next time the Scoutmaster is thinking of teaching a merit badge, perhaps the question is not whether he can teach the badge, but whether he should...

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