My home town didn’t offer the University course I wanted, so
here I sit eight months into my new life. As I plough my way through Management
Studies and Ethics and Philosophy I realise how fortunate I am to have been a
Scout in Archies’ Troop back home all those years. I found that I had absorbed
so much more from the life of our Troop than almost all the other students in
my lecture classes had from their life experiences – or it least it seemed that
way to me.
When I was about to be made a Patrol Leader back some four
or five years ago, I had the chance to go to a PLTU course, where I learned a
lot about leadership – both in theory and in being able to try and practise it
in real life situations. Archie (our Troop Scouter) often used to say that you
must never ask a person to lead if you have not trained him to do so – and so
he would use every opportunity to train all of us in the Troop for anything we
were doing. He also expected us to do the same for our patrols, and the
responsibility of that kind of mindset stays with me even now.
After we got back from PLTU course, Archie was thereafter an
ongoing Coach and Mentor to his PL’s in the business of leadership. He
organised plenty of opportunities for us to lead – sometimes we managed to do
it well and often not so well. Then he
would let us talk over how we had done, with lessons to learn on how to do it
better – and encouragement to keep trying to do as best possible. He took
leadership by us PL’s very seriously. What a boon that is for me now.
If I think about it, he used to be training us all the time
– especially in the Court of Honour where we would prepare for what was coming
up ahead. Somehow it seemed that he had always managed to help us to know
and understand whatever we needed –
though he never seemed to be teaching, rather more asking us our opinions as
PL’s and then discussing those ideas. I realise now how much patience he must
have had to develop us in this way.
He always encouraged creative ideas. “Think out of the box”
he would say, “but only when you have learned to think in the box.” So he made
sure we were well informed on any topic or theme the troop was dealing with
first and then he encouraged ideas – any ideas. “Crazy ideas are best,” he told us, “because
they can be modified into fun and exciting activities for your Patrols.”
And so we began to work hard at making the lives of our
Patrols as varied and as much fun as we could. Toby once ran a camp with his
patrol where every quarter of an hour represented a full hour of the camp
programme. So they had six hours of activity, six hours of sleep, six hours of
more fun and activity, and then another six hours of sleep. Kenneth’s best was to
challenge every member to see how many new knots they could teach friends and
family in a week (Scout’s Honour on reporting back!). Max got us all into trouble
by trying to hike down the middle of the Freeway between our home town and the
next one along the road. They were stopped by Archie just as they set off with
the gentle instruction to hike within the law and follow the route he had laid
out on the map in his hand. I would rather not tell you about my best idea.
The point was that we were taught to think about our
leadership, and be prepared to innovate and try out ideas.
Archie hardly ever talked leadership, without slipping in
something about values. He made us very conscious of Gandhi’s famous saying
“You must be the change you want to see” in encouraging us to always set an
example consistent with the Promise and Law if we wanted to develop the
characters of the boys in our patrols.
Yes we learned a lot from Archie in those years – and it is
only now that I begin to appreciate just how much and how valuable it was.
Dudley Forde - Guest Writer