Re: A Second Request from a new SM
Steve Tobin (srtobin@MMM.COM)
Thu, 19 May 1994 11:08:55 -0500
> My situation is this: I have taken the job of SM of a troop that for several
> years has had some adult leaders that did way too much for the boys (from what
> I have been told, one leader did all of the cooking and cleaning on campouts).
> I am trying to return the responsibility for leadership back to the boys. At
Been there with some differences, but very similar situation.
I was brand new to adult leadership when I took over. It was basically dumped in
my lap when all 3 of the 'old guard' just quit coming, for one reason or
another . Due to many factors, largely my inexperience, I didn't
manage to salvage the older boys. Let me offer some ideas based on what I
have learned since.
The first thing to do is eliminate any physical abuse. That is one thing I
did manage to do right. Make the announcement that it will not be tolerated,
let the consequences be known, and then follow through. I gave one warning
at a meeting, then they were sent home if it happened again. If they got
sent home twice they were not allowed to attend the next meeting, if it
happened again the only way they could come back was with a parent.
I had one who went to this point, and never came back. I also outlawed cursing
and telling dirty jokes, etc. A couple decided at this point that they weren't
interested any more and left.
One thing I did, but too late, was implement the patrol system, which had not
been used. This, for many reasons I won't go into now, greatly enhances
your efforts and reinforces them. It breaks the jobs down into more managable
proportions; i.e. 6 or 8 people instead of the whole troop. It also gives
more scouts a chance to participate, and share the work load.
The rest were about in the same shape as yours. They hadn't been taught or
allowed to lead, pretty much just hung out at meetings and outings. They
were not particularly interested in the scouting program. What I should have
done at this point is to begin a fairly intense program of jr. leadership
training. I would probably start with a weekend session at a campout for
the core leadership positions; SPL, ASPL, PL's, APL's, Guides, etc.
The BSA has a very good Jr Leadership Training package, which contains a video
tape and all the printed materials you need. It is set up so that even a
beginner can run an effective training session. You can also ask the district
people if someone is available to come in an help.
See if you can find some materials from the D.E.L.T.A. program. (Developing
Ethical Leadership Through Action, I think?) They have a lot of activities
that help build team spirit and identity.
next I would implement the Patrol Leaders Council right away. At the monthly
meeting you can have short training topics and reinforcements. Have a short
session after each meeting to analyze how it went and to review plans for
the next event.
I think at this point you need to teach them that leadership can be rewarding
because it gives them control over what they do, instead of being told what to
do all the time. They also need the tools so they don't feel overwhelmed by
by having the feeling that it has been 'dumped' on them all at once.
They also need to learn that the free ride is over, and it is time to grow
up and take some responsibility for themselves. It is a tough lesson, one that
many adults haven't learned yet, either.
Steve Tobin, SM
Eagle Class of '65
Troop 39, Cannon Falls, MN; Cannon River District
Gamehaven Council (Southeastern Minnesota)
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