Thursday, November 17, 2011

Please don't assume that I am stupid.

When I moved to Alabama, I was proud to bring with me a great list of trainings that I had received and even taught in the Scouting world. I spent a week last summer working with some of the boys from my Boy Scout troop reviewing knots, compass work and fire building. Needless to say, I felt prepared.
I have been a Girl Scout leader for around 20 years and a Girl Scout since 1973. As a girl, I took as much training as I could. As an adult, I was a day camp director for 9 years over 200 girls. I taught my adults good leadership skills, camping skills and ensured that everyone was safe and having a great time. I learned new skills in my Boy Scout troop. I honed my own outdoor skills and absorbed anything new to learn.
I move to my new council and find that everything I learned never really happened. I was told that there aren't really any adults who move in from out of state that have any good outdoor skills. The person likened it to a trip that they took to Jamboree and how dangerous some of the adults were. How the boys didn't have a clue what was going on. How women seemed to slip through the cracks at most councils. However, this person never really asked what I knew - just assumed I was clueless.
I drove 3 hours one way just to participate in a council training just a few weeks ago. I decided during my drive that I would maintain a good attitude and try to learn something from this trainer. Her first remark - you must have camped before because you know how to appropriately dress. Score one for me. We learned knots. I quietly tied my knot then leaned over and assisted those around me. We learned how to start fires without matches. I started mine several times her way then I started it my way  - still no matches. I asked if she had seen a fire by friction set. Not sure if it works - they only produce smoke was her answer. You see, I am a Firecrafter and a proud one too. I have witness young men building their sets then starting their fires. It's a skill of persistence.
We learned to cook in a dutch oven, however she was short a tool to lift the lid - just use a pot holder. A pair of vise grips work too if not welding gloves. We talked about knife safety. Well, we talked that young people shouldn't touch a knife - wow. We learned to set up a tent and that walking on it while laying on the ground is just fine.
Somehow I managed to smile throughout my training. I often thought what the Boys Scouts back in Indiana would say if they saw me learning the skills that I helped some of them with. It turned into my own inside joke. The trainer asked me after our session if I would help her train. Sure, why not. However, I have a suggestion. Instead of assuming a person knows nothing of what you teach, why don't you include their knowledge in your training.
Everyone has skills that they bring to the table. We all have something that we do well and are willing to share. It is an insult to toss aside what the next person knows instead of learning what they know and possibly honing it into what works best for your group or situation.
I must admit that I have struggled trying to fit my round Scout self into the square Scout hole here. I have often thought of walking away and not caring. However, I can't do that. I can't do that to my Scouts. I value the girls in my troop and hopefully I will finally settle into a great relationship with my boys. Youth can teach us all so much but I can't teach them that it's easy to give up and walk away. They have too many role models teaching that now.

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