Utopian Advisors – A Three Part Guide: Part 1 – What Exactly Does an Advisor Do?

*Note: Anytime we mention “crew” hereafter also applies to “company”. Some aspects may depend on the individual group.
And Now You Know

Advisors, How Do They Work?

Advisors are there to give advice when it’s called for, to guide youth through the program that the youth have created. While they should have a chance to weigh-in on program choices and development, they should not be planning or creating the program exclusively. Advisors should be able to identify weaknesses and strengths within their crew and suggest development for the members who need it and how to overall strengthen, support and solidify the leadership skills in their youth. Ideally, an Advisor ensures paperwork has been filed correctly and that the group has created a meeting plan, camp, hike or other event that will enrich the attendees in some way. (Keep in mind, that enrichment may be as simple as social interaction or the purpose of fun.)

Rover Advisors are the wonderful people who step up the aid us through this time in our Scouting careers – they understand that Rovers are at once self-sufficient, while still looking to have someone nearby to watch their successes and help pick them up and dust them off when they need it. For this age group, the Advisor should be attending meetings and should also be positive in the knowledge that if they cannot attend a meeting, event or camp that the Rovers will carry out the plans accordingly, having fun and enjoying themselves while being safe.

If youth seem stuck in a rut, an Advisor may do something to switch it up. An example could be little friendly competitions such as a camp meal challenge – “Youth plan and cook their own meals with recipes they haven’t tried before, Advisors do the same” to see how creative you can be. These are wonderful learning opportunities and will get youth thinking of ways to do better next time. Advisors: be creative in challenges and you will start to lead your youth in such a sneaky way that they don’t know you’re pushing them to do, and be, better.

How do they earn their paycheque? (It’s massive, trust us.)

How much an Advisor contributes is a constantly sliding scale – no two meetings, camps, etc, are the same. When your Crew is first starting out, maybe they contribute more, remind you of this thing or that form more often, help in your gear and meal planning more. When you’re all 3rd year Rover Scouts, maybe advisors only listen to the planning and sign off on the paperwork.
But maybe you have some new youth, or there was a situation at a previous camp that created a cause for worry, and now they need to help guide the ship a little more to ensure a similar situation doesn’t occur again. Or perhaps it’s September and your Crew hasn’t seen each other in several months and you might need a little extra help getting back into the swing of your program.

The best way to describe how much work an Advisor should be putting in is like this:Amount of work advisors do in a new crewAmount of work advisors do in an established crew

Advisors will go back and forth on how much work they’ll put in- it’ll never stay the same for the time they’re an Advisor to a Crew. It should be noted that in both graphs “work” is not the same thing as “Youth Input.” Youth Input at the Venturer and Rover program should be extremely high all along the way- this is vital for the program to remain relevant to the youth Advisors are trying to Advise. Youth Input can include, but is not limited to, meeting ideas, camp themes, hike suggestions, fundraising ideas, etc. The input can be as simple as the suggestion and as involved as the planning and carry-out of the entire event.

Depending on your individual group, what outcomes the Rovers and Advisors are looking for, and what your Code of Conduct outlines, what an Advisor does varies greatly from group to group. What an Advisor is responsible for should be discussed and agreed to by the Crew and Advisors. An Advisor is responsible for many things most of all to ensure that the crew operates within the By-laws, Policies and Procedures of Scouts Canada. This will be expanded upon in an upcoming article.

Your Advisor is accountable to:

  • A group/section committee (for achieving the sponsor’s purpose, and observing any special condition the sponsor may have set)
  • Scouts Canada (usually through a Group Commissioner) for applying the Mission and Principles, and for running the Rover Crew in an appropriate way
  • Parents or guardians of the Youth (health and safety)
  • The Rovers (to meet their needs and interests through positive growth experience)
  • To him or herself (to do one’s best and be true to one’s own values)

This is super important- Advisors can delegate responsibility. This doesn’t absolve them of responsibility, but merely shares it with the Rovers. Rovers can be responsible to plan events, communicate with various parties, and run the crew’s business. The main way of doing this is through the Crew Executive and delegating responsibilities further into the crew. Rover Advisors cannot, however, delegate accountability; and at the end of the day the Advisor is accountable for all decisions and actions of their crew. This means they have the ability to veto youth decisions and actions. This should be exercised carefully-Great Responsibility

With great power comes great responsibility. Of the combine 36 years of being led by or being an advisor, we’ve seen it used once and that was because the Rovers were utterly and totally unprepared. Venturers and Rovers, if you feel your Advisor is vetoing things too often, ask them WHY and then ask them WHAT has to happen to get approval. They might be miracle workers, but they aren’t mind readers.

Now that you know what Advisors DO, learn next time how to find one!

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