Re: Troop Politics
Scott Drown (scottdd@HALCYON.COM)
Fri, 4 Oct 1996 18:17:13 -0700
>These folks clearly feel strongly about Scouting, which I think is great,
>but sometimes they seem to take things a little too seriously. I am at a
>loss as to how to bring the sides together to promote our common goals,
>and I fear it is beginning to wear me down as well.
>Has anyone experienced a similar situation?
>Any advice from your great wisdom and experience?
>In humble supplication,
>Santa Cruz, CA
Like yours our Troop is about 37 or so and still growing. Our program is
very similar, at least one outing a month, sometimes two and if not two
there may be a service project. Ther have been complaints that there are
to many activities but they are welcome to attend or not as they like.
Politics within the Troop are, I think, a function of dealing with groups
of people. You get a group togethor and there are always varying opinions
and philosophies as to how matters should be conducted and by whom. We
have had some of same questions raised in our troop regarding discipline in
I was unable to attend Summer Camp this year because I had a new job but I
appointed one of the Assistant Scoutmasters who is trained and who was to
stay the entire week to be in charge (There are 5 ASMs in the Troop). The
week went well as far as I was concerned - no calls but afterwards there
were a number of complaints from parents that Summer Camp was run like a
Boot camp by the new SPL. I had gone up one day and observed him in action
and felt that while his style was a bit heavy handed for my liking, it was
within Scout rules and proper. The week was productive for the Troop and
the Scouts themselves had a good time though one left camp I learned later
vbecause of the SPL. During the week the troop earned the Troop Baden
Powell Award, the only one awarded in camp.
Several parents demanded that I set aside the SPL saying that he was not
allowing the Scouts to have fun and saying that he had made inappropriate
comments. I supported the SPL and told the parents that while I did not
see eye to eye with everything the SPL was doing I would defend his right
to give it a try. That giving it a try meant that he was going to make
mistakes and in making mistakes he would learn to do better. That I hoped
that their boys would be given a chance to learn from their own mistakes
int he future. Besides, the Scouts elected him and if they were to learn
about leadership and run the Troop this could be one of those lessons. The
factions in the Committee seem to be more in the parents focused entirely
on doing everything for their boys and their having fun vs those foocused
on the boys learning and having fun. Having the scouts learn discipline
and apply themselves was not at all a high priortiy with the first faction.
After all this blew up and a couple of heated exhanges I went to the next
Committee Meeting and asked those who had a problem to speak out, air the
problem so to speak. I frankly discussed my reasons for supporting the SPL
and my feeling that the purpose of Scouting is for the scouts to learn
leadership skills, life skills, ehtics, responsibility and also have fun
while doing it. I also told them that in regards to discipline, there were
times where a scouts safety is at risk and how things are going to be done
are not going to be debated one iota.
The parents who were most vehement hardly spoke out and have been pretty
quiet since. One has now stated he fully supports the program as it is and
the other has informed me that as far as he is concerned scouts is
defintely a second and relatively unimportant aspect of his son's life.
Both are fine by me and the latter scout is still welcome to participate.
We just had an election and the SPL was reelected by the Troop on a close
margin. I think the Scouts themselves have made the choice.
Like your Scoutmaster I have thought of resigning as these kinds of
politics arise. The behind the back comments and snide insinuations do get
to me. I hate them so I endeavor to bring them into the open and will
admit, that I have used the Scoutmaster's Minute to address some of these
petty practices through parables. Since all present are expected in the
circle I have a captive audience!
Perhaps the best thing to do is to get them all together, perhaps first
without the old Scoutmaster present and put your options on the table.
Fight it out (hopefully verbally) to a resolution and agree to go on from
there. Your Committe is smaller than mine as I have about 12 - 15 active
members so it may be even easier to deal with.
SM Troop 39, Maltby
Mt. Baker Council, Everett Wa.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City