scouts-l Mail Archive for March of 2000: Re: SPL elections.
Jim McMaster (mcmaster@SWENG.STORTEK.COM
Mon Mar 13 2000 - 13:39:52 CST
In message <email@example.com>, tsully@JUNO.COM said:
> Dear list,
> When I became scoutmaster in our troop I inherited a tradition where the
> SPL was basically appointed by the SM.
In my opinion, this is a bad system. How can you possibly call this a "boy
run" program if you do not trust them to make the most fundamental decision?
I am glad you are considering a change.
>My committee has lots of ideas (suggestions) as to how to do this...
This should be a decision for the Scouts, not for the Committee. If they
pick a bad SPL, it can be a better learning experience for everyone. The two
best SPLs we have had were both twelve-year-olds.
One was Second Class at the time, and was terrific. He was reelected as a
15-year-old Life, and did a worse job because he was too busy with schoolwork.
The second was Tenderfoot at the time (now Star), because he had trouble with
swimming. He was a fantastic SPL, responsible, conscientious, and respected
despite his age and very small size. He has now stepped back for awhile, but
will attend Council JLT in August and should be ready to run again in the
The two worst SPLs were my 14-year-old Life son, who simply was not ready
(and I was shocked he was elected) and a 13-year-old First Class who made
himself unpopular by using the "Big Boss" style of leadership. He was
shocked when the second twelve-year-old beat him, and has since attended and
served on the staff for Council JLT. He is our SPL again now, and looks very
good after a month. He appears to be putting his training to good use.
In summary, I do not believe in arbitrary criteria. You cannot tell by age
or rank who can handle the job. In four years we have had two youngsters
who outperformed older Scouts. We also have one who did a better job the
first time around and another who learned from his earlier problems. I trust
the Scouts to figure this out, and recommend you give them the chance. If
they pick the wrong person, they will learn from the mistake. Our troop has
not suffered long-term damage from having the occasional "less than optimum"
> I am interested in how youse out there handle these elections
In our troop, we open the floor for nominations. There is no limit on the
number, and anyone can nominate anyone, including himself. Any nominee can
decline to run. Each nominee gives a brief speech explaining why he is best
for the job, then the Scouts vote by secret ballot. If no one gets an
absolute majority, the candidate(s) with the lowest vote total are eliminated
and we have another round. This continues until one candidate gets an
One other note: Only adults count the votes. I usually do it, the exception
being when my son is a candidate. I only announce the results, not vote
counts. The Scouts only know who was elected or eliminated, not by how much.
After the SPL elections, the patrols retire to their corners to hold PL
elections by the same procedure. So far, we have had good success. You get
the occasional "mistake", but that happens in real-life elections too, and
the Scouts need to learn how to make good judgments in casting their votes.
Good luck to you in converting to a Scout-run troop.
Scoutmaster, Troop 70; Longs Peak Council, BSA; Boulder, CO, USA
I used to be a Buffalo...