Ok, so I don’t think they should fight/bicker/not get along
I believe they fill two different yet complementary roles. The inspiration for this article arose yesterday when an email was sent out to Rovers/Venturers announcing a call for applications for the position of Assistant National Youth Commissioner – West. (Although not all Rovers it seems. I would chalk that up to MMS not having Rover as a primary or secondary role.)
This position’s role [.PDF] is to service and support the seven western Council Youth Commissioners, and assist the National Youth Commissioner.
The conversation in the Twitter Universe
That’s where the discussion started. Where it ended up was quite different. At a high level synopsis, the merits and effectiveness of the NYN were the main discussion points. Some believed the whole exercise of appointing some handpicked kid (as young as 14), giving them a fancy title, and then have a group of them making decisions for the country to be nothing short of asinine. Others piped in that we wouldn’t have to tack on the youth voice to the structure as an afterthought if we remained connected to the youth. The other main point was its ineffectiveness.
While not completely, I agree all three of these arguments have some elements of truth. If the best a council can produce as a Council Youth Commissioner is a 14 year old either that youth is the next BP, or a troubling sign of the quality of their council. The application for any level of Youth commissioner should be open, and widely advertised. The choice should be based on merit (past performance, ideas, level of commitment, ability to engage fellow youth) and not a political choice. Having been given a title bestows some level of respect; they have to earn the rest through their actions. We are all volunteers, and the ability to convince people to follow along with your ideas is one definition of leadership.
Hmm, look at that. Actually developing youth through experiential learning. How well any youth commissioner, at any level, does in the long run depends solely on how seriously their mentors take their development in their leadership and management skills. If they are a token choice, the results are obvious.
What you can’t learn from a Book
This is where I start to diverge from those who don’t believe in the NYN. The entire point of Scouting is to develop youth into the leaders of tomorrow. Never giving them meaningful roles in our organization, never letting them flex their mustering muscles (ability to get people to do something), never letting them take risks, never giving them exciting opportunities, never giving them the experience of what it’s like to be in a position of responsibility of that scale , is THE fastest way for our organization to make our selves redundant. If the NYN is considered nothing more than a development opportunity, then it’s acceptable in my eyes.
Oh, and Yes there are silly politics. The same with any other organization. The same when any two people work together. You’re dealing with people for Christ’s sake. Your job is to find the ways to cut above it. You’re suppose to find ways to bring people together so that they don’t pull out the knives on each other. That’s your development objective. If something doesn’t work don’t think, “Well this idea will never work”; think, “Well how could I have done that better?” In-fighting is a sign of poor leadership. Don’t equate honest debate with in-fighting. Don’t equate your ideas being shot down as “politics”. Don’t equate an ineffective NYN with NYN as an idea being a bad idea.
If we want to see youth involvement increase, we should be finding ways to support the current initiatives. If they succeed, then we get to move on to bigger and better ideas. All of these initiatives should be grounded in development. If we can’t even get a few youth involved, how do you plan on getting most of them involved?
The open invitation
This post is already long enough and I did not get to the meat (how to move forward) that I wanted to. The next post will deal with the Round Table and the debate over that entity. Don’t worry, you won’t have to wait long.
But this all started because of a conversation, and a conversation has multiple people. This is an open invitation to anyone who has contrary, similar or otherwise opinion on the NYN or Round Table. Comment away on what I missed; any nuance I might have not caught. If you would like the opportunity to have the space to flesh out your opinion, send me an articulate, respectful, grammar and spelling error free article and I will post it.
Part 2: Seeing RED, can be found here.