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  • Positions of Responsibility

    Hello all...thank you all for your helpful advice thus far. I have another question for the Scoutmasters: If you had a rather large troop (over 50 active boys) and you had just a handful of Star and Life scouts and the majority being new 1st Class Scouts, would you be more or less likely to give the limited positions of responsibility to the 1st class scouts? It would seem that the younger 1st class scouts would have much more time to have a position of responsibility than the Star/Life (who are already 16/17 years old) which require 6 months of responsibility.

    Edited to ask: if there are no available positions of responsibility in the TROOP, I was reading that it could be a leader assigned job for the UNIT. Can anyone explain the difference between the Troop and the Unit? Thanks!
    Last edited by ScoutMom2014; 02-18-2014, 07:45 AM.

  • #2
    Unit and Troop are the same thing. Unit can also include a Venture Scout Group. First of all, Scout positions of responsibility are not given out by Scoutmasters. Officially Patrol Leaders and the SPL are elected, and the SPL selects all the troop wide positions with the advice of his Scoutmaster. Unofficially many troops elect every position. It's not taught by the BSA but is very common. In my unit the only rank requirements are, the Scout must be at least first class, except for Patrol Leaders. ASPL/SPL must be at least Star. My unit is 80 Scouts.


    • #3
      Troop is specifically Boy Scouts. Unit can be Sea Scout, Venture Scout or Boy Scout.


      • qwazse
        qwazse commented
        Editing a comment
        More specifically ...

        Cub Scouts are in Packs;
        Boy Scouts, Troops
        Venturers (not Venture Scout -- sore subject), Crews;
        Varsity Scouts, Teams
        Sea Scouts, Ships (although for administrative purposes they fall under Venturing).

    • #4
      Originally posted by Sentinel947 View Post
      Scout positions of responsibility are not given out by Scoutmasters.
      In our Troop, after the Troop Elections, whatever positions are left are assigned by the SM to whomever wants them.


      • Sentinel947
        Sentinel947 commented
        Editing a comment
        The SPL assigning everything besides Patrol Leaders is how it's supposed to be.

        I just don't understand her last post. "After the Election, the positions that aren't filled are given by the SM to those who want them"

        Why didn't they run for the position in the election? Then after the election they go to the Scoutmaster and ask for a empty position they could already have by running for it.... I don't understand that system.

      • ScoutMom2014
        ScoutMom2014 commented
        Editing a comment
        I've found that some positions no one wants to do -- historian, librarian, etc. The SM has sent an email out stating that xyz position is still open if someone wants the job. I don't know why it's run that way, but it is. And now all the jobs are taken so he will have to wait until the summer.

      • Basementdweller
        Basementdweller commented
        Editing a comment
        So you found your scout a position....

        Your way out of line......

        So are you going to college with your son and maybe his first job interview........

        You need to step way the heck back and stop over mothering your boy.

        So at your Eagle court of honor will the badge be awarded to you or him..

        Back off helicopter mom......your interfering with troop operations

    • #5
      Let's think about how many POR's are available in a troop of 50 scouts. Assume they divide into 6 patrols. That means:
      6 PL
      6 APL
      1 SPL
      1 ASPL
      1 QM
      1 Librarian (If you got a lot of 1st class scouts, there are a lot of MB pamplets floating around!)
      1 Scribe
      1 Historian
      1 Guide
      1 Instructor
      5 Den chiefs (assuming there are 5 dens nearby who may need a little help)
      1 O/A Rep
      1 Webmaster
      1 LNT trainer
      2 JASM
      3 Crew officers (assuming that some of the boys are also in a venturing crew).
      1 Chaplains aide

      That's 34 positions without even coming up with special projects. The most qualified boys get those positions, period. How that is done is between the SM and SPL. Advancement needs ARE NEVER TO BE CONSIDERED. So, for example, if a tenderfoot is very good at tracking everyone's gear he may be QM even if he has no intention of ever advancing! Even so, in all likelihood you won't have more than 30 scouts "needing" a position for advancement.

      But if you do, what other projects can be assigned? I've heard of lot's:

      Popcorn Kernel/Fundraiser Coordinater
      Advancement Chair (who says an adult has to do it?)
      Auditor/Treasurers Assistant (ever wonder who's watching the treasurer?)
      Car Washer (all those drivers deserve to come home with clean vehicles).
      Medic (got a boy earning EMT?).

      You get the idea. Sometimes a boy is just not fitting the mold of an official position. But, he will do good work if you give him something that he's enthusiastic about. (E.g., we had a webmaster long before BSA had patch for it.) But what I've observed: if you give a boy a position just for the sake of advancement, his work will be slipshod at best.


      • ScoutNut
        ScoutNut commented
        Editing a comment
        Just a note - Assistant Patrol Leader (APL) is not a POR that qualifies for advancement.

      • qwazse
        qwazse commented
        Editing a comment
        Oops. I knew I should have cut-and-pasted the list.

    • #6
      A good list. In our large troop we have 2 instructors and 2 ASPLs and 2 webmasters.

      In another troop I am familiar with it was common for scouts who wanted a POR and didn't get one to LOCATE HIS OWN Den Chief position, or special project, then get it approved by SPL and SM.


      • ScoutMom2014
        ScoutMom2014 commented
        Editing a comment
        That's a great idea! Does he have to have SM permission first to be a den chief?

      • AKdenldr
        AKdenldr commented
        Editing a comment
        ScoutMom, Yes. How I have seen it work is boy locates the opportunity, puts some thought and research into it and presents it to the SM in an informal conversation. In other troops it might be both the SM and the SPL.

        In the DC example, (Having a 15.5 yo at home) I would tell you that "puts some thought and research into it" for a high school freshman or sophmore would perhaps involve sitting down with the den leader over a coke and the Den Leader handbook, talk about the den schedule and what the Boy Scout could add to the den (see the requirements for the award for Den Chief for some ideas). He could call the Cubmaster of local packs to see when they meet. The Membership person on your troop committee might have contact information because of Webelos crossovers. Otherwise the District Executive can help.

        In a special project example, the scout identified that firewood was needed for the winter camping season, identified a lot being cleared (free wood), and researched the troop calendar to present an open date for a wood cutting special project day. Then went to the SM for approval of special project and SPL for calendar.

        Best of luck for your scout.

    • #7
      Don't forget that the period of leadership only applies once for each rank, and there can be gaps. A life coming back after inactivity may very well have satisfied that requirement while still more active. If there is a need still, and the older scout is struggling to juggle sports, a job, family issues, school, then often the SM and SPL can come up with something that perhaps can be applied irregularly as the candidate is able and it is needed. Often, instructor is the catch all for such a position because it is pretty ambiguous and allows the SPL or other leadership to draw on them when they can.

      While it would be great if every older scout stayed committed at 80%+, they all may not be able to do so. If they are making an honest effort to balance it all, then we should be flexible enough to give them the opportunities available. On the other hand, somewhere we may on occasion HAVE to draw a line and counsel them as to where that line is.


      • #8
        On no another parent trying to make sure her boy gets a POR so he can make eagle by the time he is 12.

        SO OP what is your position in the troop??? OH you don't have one......then butt the heck out. Stop trying to work the system....

        Let your son enjoy his scouting experience, Let him grow into a leadership position.


        The SPL and PL's are elected the rest of the positions are appointed by the SPL and PL's. The SM shouldn't be doing it.


        • ScoutMom2014
          ScoutMom2014 commented
          Editing a comment
          Wow, that was rude. My son is almost 16 by the way. And I'm the troop secretary. Does that qualify me to ask a simple question?

        • King Ding Dong
          King Ding Dong commented
          Editing a comment
          Don't take it personally. It's the only way he knows how to communicate. Give him a little time and he will start to grow on you. He is always good for a chuckle. You just have to keep the image of Oscar the Grouch in your head when reading his posts. It works for me.

        • Basementdweller
          Basementdweller commented
          Editing a comment
          Your looking out for your son.....ONLY

          I get he is 16 and either isn't very popular or very ambitious.

          Those reasons don't give you any right to force him into a leadership position.

          Back off.

      • #9
        Still trying to polish your social skills on the new parents BD? Your rant reminds me of the old Saturday Night Live skits where Dan Aykrod yells "Jane you ignorant..hmmm". Well you know.

        Scoutmom, you are basing your questions under the misunderstanding that the main objective of the POS (leadership) experience is for advancement of rank. Evem many troop leaders have that misconception. Positions of Responsibility are intended to give scouts practice in real life situation of making decisions based from the Scout Law. While we parents by nature tend to look at the gratifications of stature for our children, that is not the primary mission of the Scouting Program. The program mission as stated by the BSA is:The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law. POS or Leadership is one of the many methods of how the BSA accomplishes their mission.

        But you should also understand that POS experience isn't very useful unless it challenges a boy at his level of maturity and scouting experience. If the troop is running as designed, the Patrol Leader really should have a couple years experience in the troop to have the maturity and scouting experience for a quality leadership experience. I know there is a lot to learn about scouting and how it works, if you don't feel comfortable asking in this forum, there are several other Scout forums a little more understanding to new parents looking to learn. That being said, there are also a lot of good scouting direction here as well.



        • ScoutMom2014
          ScoutMom2014 commented
          Editing a comment
          Thanks for your kind comments. I've been around scouting for over a decade, and now that Eagle is coming closer, I just wanted to help my son not run into some nightmares that I've heard of others -- not making Eagle because they were missing a MB, or not enough time for a POR, that sort of thing. I realize that 2 years is a long time, but also it isn't. Time flies too fast these days. And I commend my son for juggling sports, youth group, scouting, etc. Sometimes plans have to change, i.e. he won't be able to work on his Eagle project when he wanted, but that's life.

          He's held the POR of Chaplain's Aide and Scribe of Communication so he's not a stranger to having jobs in the troop. I just didn't realize that all the jobs could possibly be taken and he'd have to wait for 4-6 months for a POR to open up.

        • Basementdweller
          Basementdweller commented
          Editing a comment
          Neither of those jobs have any real responsibility.

      • #10
        The requirement says a boy has to SERVE in a POR for 6 months. Well, Johnny gets selected as APL for his 6 month term. Yet when it comes time for his BOR he walks in with his APL on his sleeve and the eyebrows all come up! So he gets questioned on it. He simply states that because he was APL he had lots of time on his hands and so he divided up his 6 months into 26 weeks. Numbers a piece of paper with 26 lines and fills them all in. He organized summer camp, registered the troop, lined up all the MB and SERVED as SPL for the week. That goes into line #1. Then the QM was going to be absent from the Spring Camporee so he got all the equipment for the patrols lined up for the weekend and filled in line #2. There were three service projects he organized for the troop on various Saturdays, so he filled in #3, #4, #5 as SPL. He got 5 lessons for the NSP lined up and taught, First Aid, knots, took them out and identified 10 plants and 10 animals on a hike, and got them to the pool for swimming. #6, #7, #8, #9, #10 filled in as Instructor. Then his PL missed 6 meetings due to school sports and so he filled in during his absence. That's #11, #12, #13, #14, #15, #16. The Webelos boys needed to come and visit the troop meeting, so he lined up a special program for them when they came to visit. #17 was marked as a SM Special Project. With no Chaplain's Aide available, he organized a prayer/devotion time for the winter campout, #18. The scribe didn't make it to the PLC so he took minutes for that and handed them into the scribe at the next meeting #19. A couple of boys were wanting to take a Citizenship in the Nation MB and so he dug through the supply cabinet to find enough pamphlets for the boys, #20. The Troop Website was out of date and so he sat down and put next year's calendar up on the site, #21. He noticed the QM didn't have an inventory list of equipment and the patrols were complaining about lack of supplies, so he inventoried the storage room and troop trailer and handed in an updated inventory list to the QM, and a list of missing/lost/short items to the CM treasurer to look into. #22. Knowing he was 4 weeks short, he asked the SM if he could organize and teach the leadership of the PLC in the Green Bar Bill Patrol Method leadership instruction as a special project. The SM thought it might be a good supplement to their NYLT training and approved, #23, #24, #25 and #26.

        So he turns this list into the BOR which they glance over and say. Nope, sorry, the APL patch on your shirt doesn't qualify you for the POR requirement.

        Yeah, right. That will sell!

        This is why the POR patch means nothing to me! It's not what position you hold, it's the work you do that makes the man.

        Last edited by jblake47; 02-22-2014, 10:24 AM.


        • Eagledad
          Eagledad commented
          Editing a comment
          Why do you assume the BOR judges the scout differently than you? Why would a competent SM allow a scout to consider his day to day normal duties to be considered for POR credit when nothing in the hand book supports it? The BSA troop program gives adults a lot of room to work within the guidelines. Your making this scout suffer for your defiance against a system "you" don't like. Did you warn his parents before you set their son on this trail? You preach boy independence, but do you have the courage to let the scout use the Scout Handbook to guide his scouting experience instead of following the Stosh Handbook? A little more Scout Handbook with a little less adult guidance and I don't think your scouts will find themselves in your straw man scenarios. Barry

        • Oldscout448
          Oldscout448 commented
          Editing a comment
          Well, if I wanted to play Captain Queeg, the by the book nutcase in The Caine Mutiny I guess I could fail your scout.
          But a boy like that is more than welcome in my troop anytime!

        • SSScout
          SSScout commented
          Editing a comment
          So the boy did not qualify as an APL, but , boy, did he qualify with "Specially Assigned Duties". I hope his PL would vouch that he did his APL stuff, too.

      • #11
        "Why do you assume the BOR judges the scout differently than you?" - there's no emoticon for "dripping with sarcasm", of course the BOR was please with what this boy did.

        "Why would a competent SM allow a scout to consider his day to day normal duties to be considered for POR credit when nothing in the hand book supports it?" - this boy's normal duties was to be a member of his patrol, that's all.

        "Your making this scout suffer for your defiance against a system "you" don't like." - First of all, this is only a suggestion I put out there for the boys who need POR and don't get elected into any "real" POR's due to the fact that they may not be popular enough to win some kind of election. I have had boys take two and even three terms (one scout) to get 26 weeks worth of effort. And when popular elected boy sit on their hands doing nothing except garnering POR credit for doing nothing, these boys step up and get the job done. While I don't expect any of my boys to do such things, it is an alternative to a creative energetic leader to get credit for effort put forth. I find it draws out servant leadership, creative thinking and problem solving for boys choosing to take this option. It also puts a bit of incentive in the elected POR boys to actually do their jobs so that someone else doesn't step in and get credit for it. Boys holding elected POR's have first chance to do their job. If they don't do it, it's fair game for any one else to step up and get the job done.

        As far as the example I have outlined, it was done by one of my quieter boys that never got elected to anything, yet went on to Eagle at age 15 just before his 16th birthday. After he received his Eagle he refused the traditional JASM position and instead became TG for the NSP which he did for two years before aging out. He was never elected to SPL or PL positions, but filled in for them on various occasions.

        "Did you warn his parents before you set their son on this trail?" - His dad was my ASM, Eagle Scout with 2 palms. I'm thinking he might have suggested some of the activities behind the scenes for his son, but he didn't say a word ever about what was going on.

        I had another boy who was socially withdrawn, but came with an opening prayer and closing devotion for every meeting he attended. After about 6 months, the PLC decided he should be wearing the Chaplain's Aide patch on his shirt. Once he got the patch, he just kept doing what he had always enjoyed doing. There is no term limits for CA. After I was let go by that troop, I saw the boy at a camporee. He told me he was now SPL, but I noticed he still wore the CA patch.

        No boy is ever expected to take this alternative route to fulfilling the POR requirement, it's just an option for those who might otherwise get passed by or hasn't the skills or opportunity to do the job consistently for a full term. I have had PL's not request signing off on their POR requirement because they got elected, but then in the middle of their term played basketball/baseball or something that took them away from the troop for a couple of months. If they did not get reelected as PL, they used this alternative suggestion to fill in a couple of months worth of work to honestly fulfill their POR expectations.

        If the boy does the work, I sign off on the requirement. How HE defines that work is up to him. I have never had a boy define that as doing nothing for 6 months while wearing a patch.


        By the way, I have had handicapped boys earn POR in this manner. I wrote the whole process of what they could accomplish off as a SM project.
        Last edited by jblake47; 02-22-2014, 03:55 PM.


        • #12
          Your scenario failed the scout in the BOR. You imply it's because the adults in the BOR are heartless following the BSA guidelines when the scout and SM didn't. Your story changed quite a bit in your reply to me. You have some good advice to help leaders with their programs, but you feel the need to describe the other adults as heartless and controlling to make your point. Even more confusing is your post wasn't the context of the OPs question. The BSA program gives us a lot of latitude for helping scouts grow in the program, SM assigned PORs is just one of the tools to give us that latitude. I have given many SM assigned PORs to many mentally and physically handicapped scouts. And I also have wonderful success stories of disadvantaged boys who were a success in the troop as well as life now as an adult. One last thing about SM assigned PORs, the CC and parents need to be involved with the assignment to insure there is no confusion while the scout performs the duties and during BOR. Especially with handicapped scouts. In fact, depending on the severity of the handicap, I would also include the district commisioner in the process so that there wasnt any confusion at the EBOR down the road. Barry


          • jblake47
            jblake47 commented
            Editing a comment
            "So he turns this list into the BOR which they glance over and say. Nope, sorry, the APL patch on your shirt doesn't qualify you for the POR requirement."

            To restate the comment, the BOR of course granted the boy fulfillment of the POR, there was no question that the patch on his shirt had nothing to do with showing leadership in multiple POR areas during a 6 month period. As I stated, the boy became Eagle based on his performance in the various POR's he was not assigned to. Yet he never was elected to SPL or PL.

            To tell a boy that because his PL elected buddy took him on as APL and he wasn't going to get any advancement credit in the next 6 months isn't an option in my troop. If the boy wants advancement and didn't get POR through the traditional method, his initiative and perseverance was recognized by the BOR as a totally acceptable alternative. In his SMC we covered what he had done and I had no problem signing off SMC, Scout Spirit, and POR fulfillment under these circumstances.

            The "fall out" from this boy's actions motivated a lot of other boys to step up and start doing leadership within the troop as well. Boy's lacking POR took on "Instructor" for the younger boys to the point where they were standing in line to teach. How many times have we heard the older boys didn't help out the younger boys. Well, I don't seem to have that problem.

            With others complaining about older boy lack of involvement, I have boy volunteering. No, it's not for 6 months at a time, but here and there, filling in where needed and helping out not only their patrols, but crossing lines to help out the other patrols, especially the younger ones who seem to offer the most opportunity to do so.

            Communication between elected POR's and ad hoc POR boys has increased a lot. If a PL can't make an activity, why wouldn't the APL not get credit for doing the work on that activity in his absence. Acting PL and PL require the same amount of responsibility on the part of the boy. If an APL who isn't getting credit for advancement, when the QM can't make an activity, he steps up and does the work. Yet he doesn't get credit, whereas the absent QM does? That really doesn't add up in my "Stosh Handbook" book.

            Remember, I was the SM who was replaced because I "expected too much leadership from the boys." It was the parents who complained, the most of the boys were having a great time. The only boys that complained, were those who didn't do anything in the troop and were not getting elected to POR's and weren't advancing. Parents of lazy scouts will always have a problem with that.

            The handicapped boy was 34 years old, working on his Eagle, the Council sent him to me to help get him his Eagle. Out of all the SM's in the council, why would I be the chosen one? Because all my boys were basically running the troop, it left me and my ASM plenty of time to work with him on his special needs. He was really a nice guy and the boys thought it was great to have him part of the troop. I have no idea what happened to him after I was let go.

            In the 4 years I was with that troop, the only adults that worked with the boys were me (SM) and the parent of three of the boys (ASM) who also happened to be an Eagle Scout with 2 palms as I mentioned before. If I or the ASM couldn't make an activity, a parent would step up to provide 2-deep adult leadership.


        • #13
          When a Scout does nothing in a POR I'm inclined to put much of the blame on the Scoutmaster for failing to motivate the Scout. Often Scouts don't know what they are getting into and need to be coached by the Scoutmaster and the older boys. If a Scout gets no feedback on his performance, he assumes everything is ok. When a Scout in my unit has been neglecting his duties, the Scoutmasters in my unit don't go looking for another Scout to do the job, we coach the Scout who's in the POR. We encourage and guide the A(SPL)s to work with that Scout. Isn't that our job? That doesn't invalidate how JBlake runs his unit. The Scoutmaster assigned project is purposefully vague to allow for exactly the things JBlake describes.


          • jblake47
            jblake47 commented
            Editing a comment
            "When a Scout does nothing in a POR I'm inclined to put much of the blame on the Scoutmaster for failing to motivate the Scout."

            I don't. The influence of the SM is far less effective than the peer influence of the other boys.

            As SM in a boy-led program, it is my responsibility to offer up multiple suggestions for the boy to consider. But the final decision on what he does must come from him or the job he does will be far from satisfactory. I create opportunities, what the boys do with them is up to them.

            As far as my Expectations go. I have only one and every Webelos boy that comes into my troop gets the "I expect you to Eagle" speech, but it's up to you.

            As a matter of fact, the #1 complaint I receive, especially from the younger boys is that I DON'T tell them what they have to do. There parents do that, their teachers do that, their pastors do that and for the first time in their lives, they are in control of their destiny and don't know what to do with it. Once they realize that, the suggestions start to make sense.


        • #14

          Don't apologize for me.....

          Scouting is a horrible shadow of what it once was......I am not even speaking of my time in scouting as the sun had already began to set on my time.........Fricken millennial Parents......Every body is special, deserves a title, a Trophy or a pat on the back for not crying because they didn't receive the Pink Elephant Petting Merit badge, even though he wasn't in attendance.

          Helicopter parents........Cub leaders who don't understand or won't understand the intent of the boy scout program

          Weak poorly trained Adult Leaders whether they gate keep or the ones that Participation equals completion bunch......Grow a spine, follow the guidelines for safety and advancement.

          Or the Other Adults that think Boy Scouting is a Family outdoor adventure club....

          So we have a mom here who is going to start meddling in the troop.......Just like she did in Tiger Cubs push her scout to the head of the line....

          My Troop has grown and I am very sure it was not a good thing.....I am dealing with a few moms and grandmothers now....whose scout joined our unit less than 2 months ago and think they should be SPL, PL or even God for that matter.

          So NO, I don't have any sympathy and a complete understanding of this MOM.......

          So Guys, just curious here, In her scouts Football team.....How far would a phone call to the coach go to make her son Team Captain?????

          NO WHERE.......

          Ya, I am grumpy this morning........After spending an hour receiving abuse from a mom not unlike this yesterday......Our conversation ended with "No, I will not appoint your scout to any position and NO I will not assign him a project, His SPL or PL will assign him the position. Furthermore YOU are not to speak to the SPL, your scout will need to ask him for an assignment and If I hear of you speaking to the SPL on your scouts behalf, your scout will be asked to leave our unit."

          If I deal with this mom again on this subject before the end of the week I think her scout will be asked to leave.


          • ScoutMom2014
            ScoutMom2014 commented
            Editing a comment
            You sound like a very angry person. I was only asking a simple question. My son is going to be 16 soon and has balanced sports/scouts for more than a decade (he started as a Tiger, yes).

            He wanted to work on his Eagle project on his off season so he can accomplish both. Now he will have to wait until he's almost 17 to board for Life and THEN start his Eagle project. I was afraid we might run into a time crunch since you never know what may happen. And you don't know me at all so insulting me isn't offensive. It just shows you to be a bitter person.

          • Basementdweller
            Basementdweller commented
            Editing a comment
            Just very tired of overbearing parents trying to jam their boys through the program.

            So what has he done for the previous 5 years in scouting. Boys in my troop generally advance once a year, with little extra effort put into advancement.

        • #15
          Basement, it sounds like somebody needs to get out of scouting and it's not the boys in your troop. Your open disdain for anyone who doesn't agree with you is unlikely to be limited to here and I can only imagine the toxic environment that is taking hold within your troop as you berate and insult everyone who comes within striking distance. For the good of the boys and the program I'd highly encourage you to take a step back from scouting, and perhaps seek a little anger management therapy.


          • Basementdweller
            Basementdweller commented
            Editing a comment
            Nope, Just got ripped up one side and down the other by a mom for an hour yesterday.....I was trapped at a CO function so I could not simply hang up the phone or walk away from her.

            I am not gonna do it again. She was out of line and I do not have to put up with it.

            Her son is very new to scouting and the troop, he has yet to camp with us and has missed 1/3 of the meetings......

            Brew, her scout isn't ready, He will be some day but that day is not today.