Re: Tricky meeting
Amick Robert (amick@SPOT.COLORADO.EDU)
Wed, 19 Nov 1997 16:56:23 -0700
John, et al
These meetings are never pleasant and without proper moderation will
often easily become unproductive and acrimonious. Perhaps, as
Kevin McClelland, JASM, suggested in another post, it is important to
research if there are real clear violations of BSA policy and procedure
involved, or if as is usually the case, it is more of a personality
conflict/procedural/process related agenda.
It would be good to have an impartial moderator (presumably yourself)
research the why and wherefore of the conflict
between the committee and the SM. It is also important to listen to the
Scouts to see what their feelings are about the issues, because they,
after all, are the ones most directly affected by such proceedings and
Many times, there are simply
miscommunications and misunderstandings about issues which become far
larger than they need be, when examined critically. I have witnessed
several similar processes such as this and it often amazing how very
trivial issues are magnified exponentially out of proportion to their real
importance. More often than not, misinterpretation and misunderstanding,
or even personality conflicts are largely at fault. Where there are clear
differences in philosophy, again, compromise often can be found with an
even better solution as an end result.
It is beneficial if all players are asked to write their perceptions and
"grievances" down and ask for written responses from those in a position
to answer, prior to the meeting.
It doesn't sound like you will have the luxury of this approach with the
imminence of your meeting; but perhaps the meeting could be delayed to
facilitate using that technique.
This allows the players from both "sides" to critically examine what the
perceived issues are and to provide responses to those issues, which can
then be discussed in a more rational, objective, and logical manner. It
also tends to defuse anger and temper responses. Sometimes when you
write something down, and then let it set for a while, then reflect on it,
you can appreciate what is objective and what is emotional and
unproductive. Time seems to heal many of the irrational and emotional
responses to issues.
An impartial and skilled moderator will look at each issue, restate and
examine it critically and determine the background from which it resulted.
Each side can then be weighed and evaluated rationally, to see if
understanding and compromise can be found. More often than not in
Scouting, everyone really has similar goals, however ego and
miscommunication often serve to derail an otherwise productive
When the meeting occurs, right up front, there needs to be clear ground
rules for being objective, avoiding
personal attacks and acrimony, and mutual respect and courtesy for all
participants (the Scout Oath and Law sum it up very nicely). The
moderator should make it very clear that deviation from
that standard will result in sanction or expulsion from the meeting if it
cannot be controlled.
Most of all, remind the players to keep it positive, and productive; they
are after all, a part of a great program, and all should seek what is
best for the youth, so channeling energy into positive solutions makes
Of course, as you know, the committee and chartered organization do have
the final authority on who they wish to have serve as a Scoutmaster, and
if there are "irreconcilable differences" sometimes separation is the only
answer. However, every effort should be made to explore viable options
before this final and unpleasant step is taken.
Bob Amick, Explorer Advisor, High Adventure Explorer Post 72, Boulder, CO
Longs Peak Council Exploring Training Chair
On Wed, 19 Nov 1997, John Conley wrote:
> Hey, All,
> I'm attending a troop committee meeting tomorrow night that I am looking
> forward to like a root canal. I think I know what my role is "by the
> book", but sometimes you folks have amazing insights, so feel free to
> chime in...
> A troop committee in my district has written a letter to their scout-
> master, basically saying, "Thanks, but your services are no longer
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City