scouts-l Mail Archive for February of 2000: Re: Is this a job for the Scoutmaster?
MAJ) Mike Walton (settummanque, the blackeagle (blkeagle@USSCOUTS.ORG
Mon Feb 22 1993 - 17:44:36 CST
Paula Sheridan wrote and asked about the advice I provided earlier with
regard to the Scoutmaster "presenting information on the progress of the
Troop's leadership." I stated that this is a job for the "Leader of the
Troop," the Senior Patrol Leader (SPL):
>I have a few questions about that advice. If, for instance, Scouts in
>leadership positions are ignoring their responsibilities to the extent that
>the overall quality of the Troop's program is being negatively impacted,
>isn't this a legitimate concern for the Troop Committee?
No, it is not, Paula. It IS a concern for the Scoutmaster and the Senior
Patrol Leader, however. Remember, the Troop's Committee's job is to SUPPORT
the Scoutmaster and his or her Assistants, and in particular the Senior
Patrol Leader and his elected and appointed youth leaders...the leaders of
If there's a problem about an individual Scout not working his assigned
duties, or if a Scout REFUSES to do what the Senior Patrol Leader appointed
him to do (remember, the Scoutmaster does NOT appoint but rather "ratify"
the appointments and advises the SPL on which Scouts in his or her opinion
"needs to serve in a leadership position" for the next rank!), then it's the
job of the Senior Patrol Leader, assisted by the Scoutmaster, to either
coach the offending Scout or to remove him from that leadership role.
Again, the Troop's Committee's responsibility is NOT to oversee the Troop
operation. Their job is to SUPPORT and GIVE ASSISTANCE to the Scoutmaster
and allow ways for the youth of the Troop to give leadership and develop
their Troop's program.
> And since it may
>take a year or more for a Scout to need a Board of Review for rank, doesn't
>that seem to be an exceptionally long period of time to wait for the problem
>to be addressed? Or how about if the TC hears from other Scouts during
>Boards of Review that they feel some Scouts are not carrying out their
>responsibilities? Shouldn't the Scoutmaster be alerted to these concerns?
Yes, by all means, the Troop Committee should alert the Scoutmaster AND the
Senior Patrol Leader, Paula. That's the right way to go about it.
>Yes, ideally, the concerned Troop Committee member should go to the SPL for
>answers. But what about a case where ALL the Scout leaders in positions of
>responsibility were not appointed by the SPL, but elected by the
This is why, Paula, the BSA's way of doing the elections is the way to go.
When we adults "invent ways to promote equality", we end up messing with the
way the program was engineered with. And I'm not an engineer, but I've been
around plenty to tell you that they say when "people who don't know what
they're doing reverse engineer things, you can be sure that it will take a
small miracle for it to be re-engineered!"
If ALL of the Troop's leaders are elected by the Troop at large, it is STILL
the responsibility of the Senior Patrol Leader. After all, when push comes
to shove, the SPL IS the LEADER of the Troop. Not the Scoutmaster. Not the
Troop Committee Chair.
>And what if this decision to elect all Scout leaders was
>not made by the PLC, but by the Scoutmaster himself?
Then its WAAAAY time for the Scoutmaster and the Troop Committee to come to
a "meeting at the mountain." The Scoutmaster should be told (or reminded!)
that the Troop Operation is the responsibility of the young man elected to
serve as leader of the Troop. That's why we have a position called "Senior
Otherwise, we would just let the Scoutmaster and Assistants pick and choose
whom they want to "be something" or to "do something" for us. That's NOT
leadership. And leadership is something we are trying to instill and teach
through this process called Scouting.
>Finally, does this "example" Troop just wait around for the next election
>cycle to let the SPL have the responsibility of appointing his fellow
NO. Just like in "real life," Paula. When a leader fails to do his job, he
is removed and either a new one is appointed or elected, depending on the
position. And if the Troop is serious about this, those elected and
appointed will be serious about it.
And that lessens the Scoutmaster having to interviene and get involved in
the "small stuff" that happens. The key, Paula, is that the Scoutmaster has
to have confidence in the Senior Patrol Leader and the Troop Committee has
to have confidence in the Scoutmaster and his or her Assistants.
And to answer the followup, what happens to his "tenure as a leader"? It
stops. Cold. Until the person is either appointed or elected in an
You betcha that it's a strong pill to swallow, but that's what we do in the
"real world", Paula. If you don't do your job, employers tolerate you long
enough to either reassign you somewhere where you will do better (they
hope), or tell you "We're sorry, but it's not working....for you nor us."
We cheat our youth leaders when we as adults "pick and choose" whom WE can
work with and whom WE feel that can do the "best job for the Troop". It may
be that that Second Class Scout that just joined the Troop and was appointed
as Scribe is going to be the BEST Scribe that Troop ever had. It also could
be that the most senior boy in the Troop gets elected to Senior Patrol
Leader and never attends a single meeting afterwards, leaving it all to his
Assistant Senior Patrol Leader to "carry the Troop" until the Court of Honor.
In both cases, its' the Senior Patrol Leader and Scoutmaster that makes
those decisions. And when it comes to the SPL, then it's the Scoutmasters'
role all by him/herself to work with, coach and if neccessary, tell that
Senior Patrol Leader "I'm sorry, but it's not working...for you nor the rest
of the Troop..." and hold a new election.
But that's also a function of that *trained Scoutmaster*: to coach and
motivate that SPL.
As you can read in all of this, Paula, the Troop Committee has "no play at
all" in this....
Hope that helps out!
(MAJ) Mike L. Walton (settummanque, the blackeagle)
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