Re: Questions are new, so is SM
Kathie Cerveny (kathie@DELTA.EECS.NWU.EDU)
Wed, 20 Oct 1993 12:14:48 CDT
Welcome Marc, to what I strongly believe is the most important job in Scouting,
that of Scoutmaster. You will have the opportunity to put your mark on
numbers of young boys as they pass through your leadership time, and we all
wish you the best.
> I'm a fairly new (2 months) SM and I'd like some of your experience here.
> Problem 1: Based on the training I've had and what I've read on SCOUTS-L
> and rec.scouting, I firmly believe in the "Boys run the Troop" goal. But
> wondering how far does "Guiding" go before it turns into "Running". One
> example - Our council once a year does the "Scouting for Food" good turn.
> Basically, we put out empty bags on one weekend and pick them up,
> hopefully filled with food, the next. When this started about 5 yrs ago,
> our unit
> decided to have the Cubs drop the bags off on the first weekend and the
> troop pick the food up on the next. When the Troop shrank they asked the
> Webelos to help pick up. This evolved into the whole Pack helping the
> pick-up. Now our Troop is large enough to do the pick-up on our own, so
> I asked the PLC what they wanted. They preferred to do the pick-up on
> their own,so that's what we told the Pack. Now the Pack is angry at us for
not including them and I'm getting flak from the Troop Committee for letting
the boys do what they want. Should I have steered them or over-ruled them on
this decision? How much of the Troop is "their" Troop? (ALL OF IT)
--The solution (as always) is, "let's go back to the program". In this case,
the program is Scouting for Food, and yes, yours seems to be correct in it's
format - Put out the bags one week, collect the next.
However -- all units should be doing them on their own -- it takes very
little to take a city, town, or village map (and it IS done this way in
Chicago as well) and assign blocks and streets "per unit". If the unit does
not cover their assigned areas, the dist. Scouting for Food chairman will know
and changes can be made next year. The district Scouting for Food chairman job
description INCLUDES the fact that he/she is to map out the area to be covered
by each unit.
You are correct - the PLC makes that decision, period. The pack should not be
angry, just get itself an assigned area (perhaps you and the CM can work this
out, note I stated you and the CM, NOT the old SM) and both units do it.
That WAS the original plan anyway.
> Problem 2: The old SM, who's still on Committee, ran Troop meetings, had
> no PLC meetings, and had boy leaders - up to SPL - in more or less
> "figurehead" roles, ie. no real responsibilites - just a patch to make
> tenure for advancement.
> He obviously does not like the way the meetings are run, doesn't believe
> the boys should break up into Patrol Meetings, and has problems with the
> ways the boys lead their respective groups. How do I handle his
> constant "I'm not trying to criticize,... but" statements? He and a
> couple others in the Committee really don't believe the boys should run
> the Troop.
--How rude of the old SM~!!! Put in and recruit a new leader and then hand over
his shoulder to be sure it is done YOUR way! You are doing the boys NO
SERVICE by giving them "figurehead" roles. They are NOT learning leadership (a
PRIMARY responsibility of the Scoutmaster is teaching leadership to EVERY
Scout). How DARE he even show at the meetings! "Old SM never die, they just
stay that way."
--Past Scoutmasters have always been a problem and have no business at the troop
meetings, at least for awhile! How totally tacky to recruit a new SM and then
sit on his ability to function and gain the trust and confidence of the boys!
Now that I feel better cause I said that-----go to your scout shop and purchase
a packet of "Troop Meeting Agendas." They WORK! If your troop WAS smaller in
the past, the past SM probably did not feel (as many SM agree, I and
Baden-Powell do not) that a small unit can not work within the patrol method.
NOT true. Baden-Powell did not take 32 boys out to the first troop campout at
Brownsea! He had only 7 or 8 boys there. The patrol method is the ONLY method
that works in our program.
Find that statement in your SM handbook, reproduce it and make a poster for
your troop meeting areas.
Soon the old SM will leave you alone -- call your unit commissioner -- (where
ARE they when they are needed!), who SHOULD be visiting your unit once a month
anyway, and ask for the district Boy Scout Leader Training Chairman to arrange
to come to the unit and hold a "Fast Start" beginning training session.
(time:2 hours-all registered adults are required to attend this course). Fast
start makes it VERY clear that what you are doing IS right -- you will get
support from the troop committee if they see the video from national. Get Fast
Start done. Our scout shop sells the videos and you could even buy one
yourself, and show it to the leaders (would it hurt to show the troop meeting
part to the boys? no).
Go to Scoutmasters'Fundamentals (Boy Scout Leaders Basic Training) as soon as
you can. Get a set of troop job description cards (very cheap) and hand out at
the next committee meeting.
Make a handout from the job description for SM and distribute it to your
committee so that they too know exactly what your job is. Training boy leaders
is a top priority for SMs! They MUST face this, and do it. It's in the Book!
> Problem 3: What do I do with a JASM? The Scout books are very vague on
> what duties I should give him. The lates org charts show him reporting
> to the
> SM and also to his PL, but with nobody reporting to him.
--Get a copy of the JLT training kit (it has a video too) and is meant to be
conducted in a troop by the SM, after EACH troop election. All positions and
responsibilities are explained. Set a date when you will meet with your
scouts and do this training. Then they too will know what is right and what
was not being done correctly in the past. There is no reason to hit back at
the old SM -- just surround him with trained people, men, women, and boys!
The JASM is to do what you as the SM want him to do. However, he is also
often assigned to a new patrol or new scout to get them into the swing of
Scouting, teach basic skills, etc.
> Problem 4: How old are boys ready for the Camping Merit Badge? I think
> if they're camping now they're ready now, but the old SM (not him
> again!!) feels
> that the young boys won't retain anything if I go through it with them.
--There is PURPOSELY no age for any merit badge. The boys in an active,
outdoor program troop will earn the cooking and camping merit badges quite
quickly. The past SM is incorrect. Do not (again) argue or fight back -- just
do it, you are the SM now and your handbook (SM) and the boy's handbook say
different. Be sure to get a registered merit badge counselor to work with the
boys - and if that person is outside of your troop, your position on the matter
is also strengthened! SM can, of course, be the counselor for Camping and
Cooking, but in your case, you need to constantly bring in experts who back you
position on the different issues.
Remember -- there is NO AGE LIMIT on any merit badge.
There is so much more -- we have the biggest printing press in the sky and one
of the best training support programs in any organization. Go to your monthly
roundtables ask for input there - bring home the "printed word" make it a
poster - a handout -- teach it.
Good luck, and congratulations! You have the opportunity to build a man or two!
p.s. Remember to have fun, enjoy the program, the challenges -- when the fun
ceases, give it up.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City