How do you counsel a youth leader struggling to gain respect?

It’s the third day of summer camp, and everything has been going swimmingly. That is, until Patrol Leader Xavier notices a few of the younger Scouts tossing trash into the fire pit. He looks around the campsite and notices their gear has been carelessly strewn around, too.

He approaches them and instructs the Scouts not to throw trash into the fire pit and that they need to pick up their stuff and put it back in their tents. Defiantly, one of the younger Scouts continues to throw trash, which emboldens the others to follow suit and laugh off Xavier’s instructions.

Xavier reminds the youth about the 11th point of the Scout Law: “A Scout is Clean.” But the younger Scouts ignore him.

Xavier then goes to Senior Patrol Leader Craig, informing him of the problem. Craig orders the younger Scouts to stop what they’re doing and to pick up the site, which they do begrudgingly.

The next day, though, the campsite is back in disarray and Xavier catches the younger Scouts throwing trash into the fire pit again.

This scenario stemmed from a similar experience one Scout had. He wrote us, saying:

Some of our younger Scouts have been using the fire pit as a trash can and leaving litter, gear and personal possessions scattered across the campsite.

Although I have spoken with the troop several times, I have yet to get any reaction or change in behavior. I don’t know how I can get Scouts to care about something they don’t want to do.

What would you do?

Suppose Xavier approaches you, an adult leader, with that question: “How do I get the Scouts to care about something they don’t want to do?” What would you say to him?

About Michael Freeman 50 Articles
Michael Freeman, an Eagle Scout, is associate editor of Boys’ Life, Scouting and Eagles’ Call magazines.