Troop Officer Elections
William N. Dilla (sdilla@UMSLVMA.UMSL.EDU)
Tue, 17 Feb 1998 15:10:08 -0500
On 15 Feb, Ron Fox wrote:
>This March is the beginning of our Troop's second year of
>operation. For the last year we have been having rotating
>Patrol Leaders, so that everyone got a taste, since both
>our Patrols were New Scout patrols. Now it's time to
>elect Patrol Leaders, as well as a new Senior Patrol Leader
>(our current SPL has served for 6 months and has indicated to
>me that he would like to relinquish his office).
Before I give you some answers, Ron, I've got a question for you. How often
did you rotate New Scout patrol leaders? How do you think the rotation plan
worked? We've got a new Scout patrol for the 1st time starting in Mar., and
I've been debating whether to have the new Scouts elect one leader or to
>SO: the question I have is, how often do you have Troop
>elections, and for how long of a term of office? Do you
>have a separate term of office for your Senior Patrol
>Leader and Patrol Leaders?
We have elections twice a year for 6 month terms. Term of office is the
same for all elected leaders. This seems to work OK. 6 months seems long
enough for a boy to get the feel of a job, yet not so long that he might
grow disinterested. In reality, since we are a small troop, most leaders
actually serve 2 terms or a full year. Where we are still doing some
fine-tuning is in the timing of elections. This has changed a couple of
times since I've been with the troop, and I finally decided on March and
Sept. elections. The dates are consistent with 2 of our quarterly cutoffs
for advancment, and the Mar. date allows us to re-align patrols and
officers for new boys coming in (e.g., moving a patrol leader into the
troop guide's job). Haven't been through a whole cycle with these dates,
though. Pros that I see are consistency with advancement dates and the fact
that leaders will have 3+ months of experience by summer camp. A con is
that the guys who take over in Sept. will be charged with carrying out a
program that was developed by the previous team in late Jul./early Aug.
With some leadership continuity, though, this may not be a big problem.
If you do decide to move election dates at some point, I'd suggest
lengthening terms to make the adjustment, rather than shortening them. For
example, the group that will rotate off in Mar. has been serving since June
without any real problems.
>Second, once this is done, how do you approach having your
>Senior Patrol Leader select Scouts for the appointive offices
>(Quartermaster, Scribe, etc.)?
Just have him do it. Doesn't mean that you can't give some input
(identifying boys who need the offices for advancement, etc.), but it is
the boys' job. I'd suggest having the SPL consult with the ASPL (if you
have one) and patrol leaders on this. You'll find that the boys usually
will make intelligent choices. For example, on our last go-round, the boys
couldn't find anyone to be Scribe and decided not to have one. Things have
been OK without one. Now that we're growing a bit, they'll probably decide
to appoint one after the next election.
>Finally: we have 12 Scouts in our Troop. I have been thinking
>that I would not have an Assistant Senior Patrol Leader, because
>I didn't want to take too many Scouts of of the Patrols. I
>figure that if the SPL doesn't show to an event, I'd rotate
>putting a Patrol Leader in for that event as acting SPL, and
>have that PL's assistant take over for the event as PL. What
>do you all think?
More experienced Scouters on the list may have other things to say, but I
don't see a problem with this. Organization charts in small troops are kind
of loose, anyway. We've maintained the ASPL position mainly because we're
heavy on older Scouts and needed jobs for them to do. But, what you propose
would work, too. There have been times when both SPL and ASPL have not
showed, we've "promoted" a PL, and things have gone just fine. You might
also find that with the SPL and a couple of other no-shows, you'll be down
to one patrol for a campout. In that case, you can promote one PL to SPL,
let the other do his usual job, and you won't have to go down to the asst.
PL ranks for leadership.
The real bottom line on this is: "Will the boys be able to learn
leadership?" In a small troop, the ASPL might not have much to do. If a boy
doesn't get elected to SPL or PL, he might make a better contribution to
the troop as QM or Scribe than as ASPL.
Scoutmaster, Troop 310
New Horizons District--Greater St. Louis Area Council
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City