Scouts-L Mail Archive for October of 1998: Need some insight - New SPL whose dad is Scoutmaster
Need some insight - New SPL whose dad is Scoutmaster
Tue, 6 Oct 1998 09:00:13 -0400
Well ... not exactly been there ... but I've seen it.
As a new scout, the SPL's dad was SM. As a PL, the SPL's dad was SM.
As a JASM, the SPL's dad was SM. As an ASM in two different troops, the
SPL's dad was SM. And I've seen it with coworkers who are SM's with
their son as SPL. (No being the SM's son is not an automatic ticket to
becoming SPL. It just seems like about every 3-4 years it turns out
In those troops with which I've been associated, the "normal" curve was
age 12/2ndCL/APL, 13/1stCl/PL, 14/Star/ASPL&SPL, 15/Life/Instructor,
16/Life/JASM, 17/Eagle/JASM. I've had SPLs as young as 12/1stCl. (One
wierd year I had two APLs elected as SPL and ASPL, the PLs all stepped
down to APL, and the SPL and APL both stepped down to PLs. I expected
too much of my PLC the preceding year. :-)
Based solely on age, this young man is one rank ahead of "normal" and
"right on" for office according to this profile. My "norms" are about
15 years old, and I know the BSA is pushing for 1st class by the end of
the Scout's 1st year now, and I'm seeing Star/Life/Eagle on younger boys
now than I used to. So it looks to me like your SM's son is "right on"
for both rank and office.
What's the "profile" for your troop? How does the SM's son "measure up"
against his predecessors? Have you never had an "immature" SPL in the
You said the SM was WoodBadge trained; was the SM by any chance a Scout
when he was a boy? Did he earn Life or Eagle? How old was he when he
became SPL? How good a job did he himself do as SPL? Is dad measuring
his son against his son's predecessors? Or his false expectations of
perfection? Or not quite perfection but just higher than he would
expect of others? (I know of very few fathers who feel their son's are
below average. But there are many whose son's don't meet their father's
Remember, this cuts both ways! Is the SPL measuring himself against his
own predecessors? Or against the war stories his dad tells of when dad
was a Scout? Or against his own expections as the SM's son, as a
WoodBadger's son, possibly as an Eagle's son?
If there's a good relationship between father and son, and between the
SM and an ASM/CC/Chaplain, these concerns should be able to be resolved
with some discussion among themselves. My personal opinion is that any
concerns based on maturity will work themselves out.
In my opinion, a *much* bigger danger is the matter of burnout.
Regardless of the age/maturity of the SPL, living in the same house as
the SM is too convenient (for the SM, *not* the SPL). The SPL becomes
"on duty" 24x7. Don't let it happen! My typical meeting pattern:
Monday was troop meeting night; 1st Tue/Wed/Thur was patrol meetings
(with SPL usually attending one of them, the ASPL attending one, and the
SM and an ASM each attending one in rotation), 2nd Thursday was RT (with
the SPL invited), 3rd Thur was PLC, 4th Thur was troop committee (with
SPL invited); 2nd Saturday was fund raiser / service project / patrol
hike or campout, 4th weekend was troop campout. Throw out Wednesdays
for phone calls between SM and SPL, plus phone calls from SPL to PLs,
plus ... Yikes ... This is bad enough. The SM needs to limit the time
he expects of his SPL son to the same he would expect of any other SPL.
Don't give him SPL things to do on Tuesdays, Fridays, and weekends to
boot. Otherwise, you'll find not that the SPL *can't* do the job, just
that he *won't* do the job. It's not a question of capabilities or
maturity; it's a question of time.
Teenagers *can* be prone to rebelion in any case, and adding the
expectations of SM's son as SPL on top of the expectations of being an
SPL not as SM's son, on top of everything else (school, sports, jobs,
girls) can be disasterous. Most boys drop out of Scouts in the 13-16
range; the expections of holding office *is* a contributing factor.
(Just as the failure to be elected *is* a factor. Sigh. Some day's you
can't win ... you can't loose ... and you can't quit the game. I forget
where I read that. As someone else's posts frequently end: Some
mornings it's not worth trying to chew through the straps.) The SPL
needs a good adult friend/councelor/confidant, other than his mom/dad/SM
in any case; doubly so for the SM's son. Encourage the SPL to "share
his leadership", and delegate *specific* responsibilities to his ASPL,
and rotate other tasks among the PLs; even more so than usual when the
SPL is the SM's son - and make sure the SM, ASMs, and PLs know what has
been delegated to whom. If he wants to resign as SPL, let him, and make
sure it's not held against him. That's better than letting him drop out
of Scouting entirely.
In my opinion, finding the balance between *expecting* the boys to do
what they can do, *letting* them do what they will do, and *doing* for
them what they *could* do for themselves is the single most difficult
job an SM or ASM has. It's hardest when dealing with their own son. We
need to encourage their development, give them a challenge, let them
stretch themselves; but we also need to keep it FUN!
One trick that *might* be worth trying. Have one of the ASMs take over
all work with the PLC and SPL for the SM's son's term of office.
(Beware ... that's how I ended up as SM ... we recharted in that period,
the SM convinced me that as long as I was doing the SM's job I should be
registered as SM with him as ASM, and assured me he'd take the job back
after his son was out of office ... and I believed him.)
Remember, the Scout Oath does *not* say "... I will do my ...", it says
"... I will do my best to do my ...". Perfection is not required and
should not be expected. High standards, yes; perfection, no.
Mark Ritter - RitterME@stny.lrun.com - Committee Member
Sea Scout Ship 90 - The S.S.S. North Star - New Milford PA