Leadership: Troop Culture

We often talk about what it means to be a Scout in Troop 1978: the Scout Oath, the Scout Law, our troop's Vision and Goals. 

We give you these written guides, but we don't give you a written guide about our culture.

That’s because it is your job, as scout leaders, to shape our troop's culture.

What do I mean when I talk about culture? 

Culture is an unwritten set of rules that are often more powerful than a written policy or official rules.

Troop culture is the way we see the world. It includes what we do in the troop, what we believe in, and the traditions we create. 

Culture drives behavior. 

Let me give you an example.

When I arrived 4 years ago, senior scouts were using paper towels and matches to light a campfire. 

How do we light fires today? 

It is now our culture to use flint, steel and natural tinder. 

How did we change our culture? Did we create this rule?

It likely happened because one of the scout leaders used flint and steel to start a fire with natural tinder. Younger scouts saw what he did and were inspired so they tried it themselves. Now, most young scouts bring their own flint and steel to every campout because that's just what we do in Troop 1978.

Every leader must be able to identify behaviors that support the beliefs of the organization. He also must be able to identify behaviors inconsistent with those beliefs. 

Scout leaders can shape the culture of a troop by modeling and acknowledging positive behaviors, and by intervening when he sees negative behaviors. 

Even though we come from varying backgrounds and cultures, we share a common scouting culture in Troop 1978. And you scout leaders have the power to shape that common culture, and to be very effective leaders. It takes time, and repetition, and patience, but you can build that fire.