Youth Leadership, Position of Responsibility
Anthony Mako (ajmako@NLS.NET)
Mon, 1 Jun 1998 14:16:31 -0400
When the discussion concerning participation and the last minute Eagle
Scouts cropped up, I wanted to chime in right from the start. Most of the
responses, however, seemed to be in agreement with my opinion so I didn't
see any point in adding a "ME TOO" to the growing number of posts. As time
went by, though, all of these threads suddenly started overlapping and there
seemed to be entirely too much picking of nits. Then that nagging feeling
started to bother me. I simply can't stand by an listen to people talk about
APPOINTING Scouts to positions within the troop! I couldn't do it in my old
troop (the one with 50+ Scouts and a pretty good mix of ages), I refuse to
hear talk of it in my present troop, and no matter what argument you come up
with you will never be able to justify it to me. Any Scoutmaster who
believes that the SPL should be appointed by the Scoutmaster should never
ever ever be permitted to run for public office! The whole reason the
positions are elected in the first place is so that our Scouts can learn
something about democracy, about living with their decisions. How can a
Scout learn to live with a decision that was made for him?
Believe me, I know the arguments: "It's the only way I can make sure the
right Scout gets the job." or words to that effect. My response to that is
BS (and I don't mean Boy Scout!). All that means is you don't trust your
Scouts to make a decision. They will sense that and in the end you will have
done more harm than good. If you don't trust them, they will soon believe
that no one trusts them and wonder what the point is of being trustworthy if
no one trusts them anyway.
"I'm afraid the troop will fall apart if they elect so-and-so over
so-and-so." Yes, well, it won't be the Scout's fault if the troop falls
apart because of their choice for SPL. Will it. The Scoutmaster has the
responsibility of making sure youth leader's do their job. More importantly,
if you trust the Scouts, they will be more likely to do something about a
bad choice they elected. What further concerns me is why any Scouter would
believe that the only appropriate position of responsibility for a Scout
attempting to complete requirements for Eagle is that of Senior Patrol
Leader. Why else would there be a LIST of appropriate positions in the
requirements? After all, the requirement is not intended to show that a
Scout can lead a group of Scouts. It is intended to show a Scout's
willingness and ability to take on responsibility.
"What if the Scouts start complaining about the SPL after the election?"
This has always been my favorite question on this subject. It reveals a
potential lesson in citizenship. We elect our leaders, and shortly
thereafter begin to complain about those choices. Ask the Scouts who has the
right to complain about someone they elected to the position? (This works
just as well for a PL as an SPL) Anyone who voted has a right to complain.
What can they do about it? Well, what can we as citizens do when we have a
complaint about an elected official? Confront him/her with our concerns.
It's one of our rights. If confronting him/her doesn't work, we can always
petition for a recall election. Democracy in action!
Who doesn't have the right to complain about an elected official? Simple,
anyone who was eligible to vote but didn't. Why? Because there are certain
duties of citizenship that are the price we pay for our rights. If you don't
bother to vote, you have nothing to complain about. The same goes for
elections in a Scout troop, but on a much smaller scale. This is a very
important lesson in citizenship that will forever go untaught if we Scouters
insist on appointing youth leaders. As Baden-Powell so masterfully tried to
tell us "You can't learn a thing if you never do a thing!"
AJ Mako, email@example.com , Scoutmaster Troop 381
http://members.aol.com/Scouts381/ "Home of the Unofficial Boy Scout Desktop
Great Trail Council - Old Portage District - Akron, Ohio
"I used to be an Eagle (C-7-97), but I'll always be an Eagle (1981)" Then
again, I used to be a Pink Panther too!
PS Further opinions on similar subjects can be found on the Embers list
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City