In this group, young people occupy all the top leadership roles, teach skills to newer members, and give back to their community. They wear uniforms and live by a code.
When Eagle Scout Andrew Jarocki discovered these facts about Notre Dame’s Band of the Fighting Irish, his reaction was immediate.
“Whoa, this is just like Scouting!” he remembers thinking.
Eagle Scouts make up 15 percent of the Band of the Fighting Irish, Jarocki says. But each member, even those without a Scouting background, lives by a code that closely resembles what Jarocki learned as a member of Troop 9 out of Duluth, Minn.
Jarocki, a trombone player, recently reached out to BSA Chief Scout Executive Mike Surbaugh to explain this fascinating parallel. Surbaugh was kind enough to share Jarocki’s story with me.
1. Employing the patrol method
A Scout troop is divided into patrols, led by Scout-elected patrol leaders. The Band of the Fighting Irish is divided into sections by instrument, led by student-elected section leaders.
Drum majors are like senior patrol leaders. They’re elected by their peers to lead meetings/practices and run events.
“Some students even work in a role very similar to quartermasters,” Jarocki says. They oversee equipment distribution and uniform standards for the whole band.
2. Teaching with the EDGE method
During band camp, new members learn skills from a group of returning members selected to serve as mentors.
These marching band veterans divide the newcomers into groups and use the EDGE method — explain, demonstrate, guide, enable — to teach good performance skills.
3. Expecting more from older members
As members of the band gain experience, they are expected to leave a legacy by helping newer members.
This is similar to how older Scouts take the mantle of leadership with new Scouts.
Older band members sign up for positions of responsibility, just like in Scouting. They might serve as band librarian, secretary, social chair and more.
4. Preparing for events
In larger Scout troops, the senior patrol leader must determine how to get dozens of teenagers, plus all their gear, from point A to point B.
In the Band of the Fighting Irish, student leaders coordinate the move of 400 people, plus all their gear, to road games and bowl games.
“That’s where the patrol method and everyone helping is crucial,” Jarocki says.
5. Living by high moral standards
“Ask any Scout in the Notre Dame band, and they’ll tell you that the standards of the band ensure every member acts in a trustworthy, loyal and helpful manner — even if they’ve never heard of the Oath or Law,” Jarocki says.
Band members know their actions reflect on the entire band and the university as a whole. The same is true in Scouting.
“Wearing the uniform comes with responsibilities to represent the organization well,” Jarocki says.
Band members give back to the community. They volunteer to teach kids at local high schools, perform at community events and assist in university projects.
“Just like how in Scouting we constantly give back,” Jarocki says.