By Andy Gibbons
Mar 10, 2016

Learning To Mentor Varsity Scout Youth

This is part 1 of a 12-part blog series that explores mentoring skills and principles for adults serving teacher and priest-age boys (14-18):

The remaining posts will appear weekly.

Principle #1: Know the Youth and Care About Them

A mentor (adult), for his Scouts
Demonstrated the catching of trout.
            “The thought just now strikes me
            That if you act like me
Then you will succeed, have no doubts.”

So this mentor began to observe
And to not take control shook his nerve.

            Said the Scouts, “Let us try,
            And with you standing by
We will catch a fine dinner to serve.”

So the fishing proceeded apace,
And the mentor, he watched, giving space.
            With feedback and support,
            The boys learned the sport,
And the meal put a smile on his face.

Now the moral is perfectly clear,
That a boy in his ten-and-fourth year
            Needs to lead on his own—
            Not completely alone—
And the mentor’s main job is to steer.

Okay, so my dog could write better poetry than that. But the idea is right. A Boy Scout of Varsity age (14-15) needs to do things, leading on his own, but he needs a watchful mentor nearby to give help when needed…but just when it is needed.

The Varsity Scout program is designed specially to help a youth transition into self-directed, responsible leadership. That doesn’t come automatically, but it can be learned. The Varsity team organization provides for each youth:

  1. a leadership role in the team, and
  2. a wise adult mentor to help him do his job, but not to take over.

This mentor is a member of the Varsity Team Committee (see the Varsity Playbook, especially the diagrams on page 8). The job of a mentor is to help the youth grow independent of you. Your success is measured by when you are no longer needed.Varsity Scout Planning

It is a great temptation for Varsity leaders to want to take over and make the plans for the boys, but that is completely contrary to what is needed. A Varsity adult leader needs to learn how to help and guide without taking over. Just as with the boys, knowing how to do this does not come automatically, but it can be learned, and the impact of a wise mentor can be felt for generations.

These related posts explore the principles of mentoring for Varsity mentors in more detail.

In the coming weeks I will post an article for each of these, so stay tuned!

AuAndythor: Andy Gibbons | Vice-Chair, Western Region Varsity Scout Program Committee and author of the “The Varsity Scout Leaders Day Book


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One thought on “Learning To Mentor Varsity Scout Youth

  1. AvatarRichard Westwood

    So glad to see you are still converted to VS. I would like to have your writing in a word or PDF to share personally with our ward and stake. I am serving as Eagle Project and Advance committee in Boys Scouts. We have pushed in committee to get the Varsity Program back on track as six life scouts needed the leadership. It is working somewhat but we have no stake support and very little Bishopric support.

    I have had weakness and pain the last ten years from an arthritic back and from chronic fatigue disease.. Lots of trys for cures but no success..

    My grandson is friends with Ken Lebbons son, sorry his life has been miserable fro a while.
    One night in the dark at mutual Del you told Ken thanks for pulling us out of a morass that day, meaning me trying to lead the song “On the Staff Again”. Sorry I heard that but it’s okay.

    Thanks for your great work. yours Rick


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