Over six years ago my family and I attended a Boy Scouts of America (BSA) Court of Honor ceremony in celebration of our friends’ boys reaching Eagle Scout Rank. At that time my only familiarity with the program was extremely limited but I remember that it made quite a bit of an impression on me and I blogged about it (here’s a link to my old post). Having talked about it with my wife, we agreed that we would register our son in cub scouts and once he reached the right age we would sign him up for Boy Scouts. For the three years of my son’s involvement in cub scouts I was not very involved due to a lot of work travel requirements. My wife was a den leader and worked with our son to make sure he achieved all the requirements for advancement. Fast forward to last year when my son officially entered the Boy Scouts and we decided that it was time for me to become involved in the program. At first while I was happy to attend the once a week troop meeting I dreaded the idea of having to go camping. After 10 nights of camping I grew to tolerate it and started to enjoy certain aspects of the camping. However, what I was really impressed with was the constant character development of these young boys. Within a 10 month period we started to notice (without exception) that these boys were being transformed into young men. They did not lose their impish charm but they started to take on more responsibility and began exhibiting some good leadership skills. My son was selected for a leadership position and as a new scout he did the best he could to cope with the responsibility. This year my son was elected for another leadership position and our troop’s scout master organized a training program leveraging the Introduction to Leadership Skills for Troops program that was developed by the BSA organization. The program included topics such as introduction to leadership, leadership structures in BSA, risk and safety, servant leadership, communications, planning, leadership styles, and conflict resolution. I even chipped in by leading the communications module.
Having attended the whole session this weekend I can say without reservation that the program is a world class program designed to help in character development and the acquisition of leadership skills. The fact that the training is designed for boys between 12 and 16 is even more impressive. Throughout my career I have taken part of dozens of training programs either as a participant or a trainer and this BSA program ranks up there among the best that I have seen. It was actually very surprising to me that the boys were listening intently and paying attention even considering that the topics often had a lot of depth to them. For instance one of the instructors explored whether leadership is a trait humans are born with or whether it is something that can be taught.
At the risk of sounding like a commercial for the Boy Scouts, I highly recommend the program for those who have boys within the age range of the program. After all, why wait to build leadership skills in college or even after they enter the work force. They can start now!