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Eight ingredients that make up a successful Scouting leader

Ever struggle with doubts in your ability to serve as a Scouting leader? April 1957

In the April 1957 issue of Scouting, Scoutmaster C. M. Heistand writes, “Scares me a little, sometimes. Here are these little guys placing so much confidence in me. How do I measure up?”

In the column, “A Scoutmaster Thinks It Over,” he lists seven “yardsticks” to help him measure how well he’s “making Scouting the satisfying experience boys dream about.”

Whether you’re a Scoutmaster, a den leader or a crew advisor, this list still proves enlightening today.

  1. Does a boy get the right start in our troop?
  2. Do I make full use of parents?
  3. Do I make full use of the patrol system?
  4. Are the boys advancing?
  5. Citizenship and service: Have we visited a patriotic shrine and discussed the deeds of those who made America great? Do we have a regular program of service projects that gives our boys a sense of being participating citizens?
  6. Uniforming: Most boys want a uniform when they join. Do we nurture this first desire?
  7. Hiking and camping: Hikes and camping are designed to teach Scouting skills on the learning-by-doing plan and to prepare boys to enjoy themselves in the out-of-doors. Do the boys get these opportunities?
  8. Home, church and school: Am I helping my boys sense the importance of their homes and of good citizenship in the home? Have we discussed religious awards in the patrol leaders’ council? Do I teach my boys that fulfilling school duties is basic preparation for life as a citizen of our nation?

When reflecting on his own capabilities, Scoutmaster C. M. goes on to write that several things give him courage:

“One is the fact that we have a program for which boys hunger if we give them the genuine article.

“… A second encouragement is the number of adults — parents, teachers, pastors and just plain good citizens — ready to help the Scoutmaster who knows how to tap such resources.

“… Most important, of course, is the urgency of the job to be done. The privilege and responsibility of helping build boys into well-rounded competent citizens is one to make a man both proud and humble.”

How do you stack up to these measuring points? And what keeps you going when you feel like you’re falling behind?

7 Comments on Eight ingredients that make up a successful Scouting leader

  1. There are eight bullet points with questions to evaluate oneself. Are those the seven ingredients?

  2. 9. The ability to do math in public.
    10. The strength to not break free of restrictive “top ten” list formats.

    • Yesterday's Scout // June 21, 2014 at 11:15 pm // Reply


  3. Rev. Kenneth W. Prill // June 19, 2014 at 5:23 pm // Reply

    Was in scouting for seven years as a boy, raised two boys who became Life scouts, and now serve on our Pack Committee where our grandson is in Webelos. Blessed and fortunate to have as our Cubmaster someone who makes all of these happen! Thank you, Brooks Prevette!

  4. Nelson Block // June 19, 2014 at 6:22 pm // Reply

    Charles M. Heistand was not only a Scoutmaster, but a Scout executive, an early leader of the Order of the Arrow, and a founder of Octoraro Lodge. (More at He received the OA’s Distinguished Service Award in 1952.

  5. Nahila Nakne // June 19, 2014 at 10:03 pm // Reply

    Wish the folks at national could do math. Second time I have encountered a basic math error in BSA literature. First one is the misquote on outing being two thirds of Scouting. Simple math would give you the correct quote: ” OUTING is three-fourths of ScOUTING” 6/8 simplified is 3/4. 😉

    • Yesterday's Scout // June 21, 2014 at 11:18 pm // Reply

      It appears when people busy trying to convince families that their teachings of morality to their children are out of date and need to be updated because younger parents (who may or may not join Scouting) don’t agree, those same people tend to ignore simple basic arithmetic.

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