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  • #16
    I can see leadership and advancement are very important to you stosh and that is the big difference between our two styles. See, what you describe as SM approved duties (is approved a fair word?) are normal expected actions in our troop. Our scouts aren’t expected to have the maturity of PORs for couple years. But they are expected to develop habits of a servant heart, or living by the scout oath and law from day one. I call it a servant lifestyle. Leadership in our troop is just way of expressing a servant heart, or what is normally called servant leadership. Where you and I differ a lot is how we develop the leadership skills. Not good or bad, just different. My philosophy for leadership development is developing leadership skills during normal troop activities while the scouts are young. Positions of responsibilities (POR) in my mind are only opportunities to practice the skills the scout has already learned, not where scouts go to learn leadership skills. The scouts in PORs are encouraged to reflect on their experience to understand their performance and change some of their habits to improve or grow. We expect them to naturally be servant leaders because they are using servant skills they practiced in their everyday scouting activities. On average, our scouts won’t be on the PLC until they are around 13 years old, and I really prefer PLs be at least 14 because that is the age where I’ve learned they get the most from their leadership experience. That is the age were they really grow. And it’s not that we adults hold them back, (our scouts have full control of their destiny in the program) but the patrol leader’s responsibility in our troop demands that level of maturity and the scouts know it. Of course we have our 12 year old natural leaders who by their nature accel faster. I really enjoy watching them in action, they are special. I’ve worked with hundreds of scouts, I’ve only had three or four natural leaders. You know what I’ve learned about natural leaders, they don’t care much about advancement. Rank is boring to them. Isn’t that interesting? I believe scouts between the age of 10 and 13 should focus more on adventure and less concerned with POR’s and advancement. Both those will come naturally at the pace of the scout’s personality. You are focused on scouts advancing and making sure your scouts progress isn’t held by lacking a POR. We are different in that I could care less about the scout’s long term goals in advancement, leadership or anything really. My obsession with scouting is developing the skills of a moral decision maker. I also obsess for a program that doesn’t get in the way of a scouts farthest ambition, and in the short term develops his confidence to go the distance. We have 14 year old Eagles, but the average of our scouts going to their EBOR is around between 16 and 17. If you were to ask them why they took so long, they will tell you they were busy. If an 11 year old scout has some ambition for leadership responsibility, the SPL will look for something that he can handle at his maturity like leading our monthly road side trash pickup or planning and leading a COH. There are many opportunities to practice being a team leader, so it’s not a barrier. But personally, I would really rather the 11 year old lead a hike in the woods or even go fishing. I know how boys dream and the dream of an 11 year old is different from the dreams of a 16 year old. The program can handle both, so I don’t like to hurry the one at risk of sacrificing the other. We have almost as many scout between the ages of 14 to 17 as we have 10 to 13 years old. It’s interesting while I know we are very much the same, it’s our differences that give us very different perspectives of scouting. Not good or bad, just different. Barry

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    • #17
      Totally agree, Barry.

      You are fortunate to have a broad range of scouts at different levels of development. How you develop those skills work well for your program and that is a good thing.

      I on the other hand, have 5 boys in a brand new troop and they are all 11 years old. I can't wait for 2 years for them to develop their leadership skills to the level of your boys. I need it now. So I have boys doing leadership far beyond their "maturity" level. Some naturally come by it easily, others are more reserved and unsure. With time that will change.

      I could, for a couple of years, treat my troop as Webelos III, but the tradition of adult led would become engrained and I would then spend the rest of my tenure here reversing the monster I created.

      So, I start my untrained, inexperienced boys right out of the blocks with assumed leadership. A few tricks there and there to get them started and then let them adjust to their own personal styles. If I postpone leadership opportunities of the POR for 2 years waiting for them to mature, I miss a ton of opportunities. I don't set the boys up to fail, but I do provide opportunities for them to consider.

      Last week we talked about fun activities they could do. One boy suggested swimming. His buddies laughed because in Wisconsin, the last thing anyone is thinking about is swimming. Instead of telling the boy it's -10 outside, I tossed out the think tank process for them to come up with some ideas of what possibly might be some options for going swimming. The boy suggesting the swimming said there are indoor pools in town. Then I suggested the high school pool 5 blocks from where we meet as a troop has a pool. I suggested the boy might want to call the high school find out when there is open swimming and how much it cost. He'll be reporting back tonight on what he has found out. Another boy suggested camping at the council camp and he's checking on availability and costs. These are boys that have yet to earn their Scout rank.

      I do not suggest outings, but the boys do. If at this age they can't think through the how of the process. From me, they get questions to provoke their thinking processes and they can draw their own conclusions as to what the next step has to be. I toss out ideas when they are really stumped, but that is not very often. If given a chance to think, they usually come up with some good options.

      When the boy come back with the campout information, my next question will be, "What about getting there? Everyone meet there or are you going to carpool? What about meals? etc. These are questions adults will naturally ask before any event. Why can't these boys develop that skill right from the beginning? I'm thinking that by the time these boys are 13, I won't have to ask those questions anymore. If some new scouts are doing planning, the older scouts will be able to ask those questions for me.

      If adults know how it works and never tell the boys, they will never learn to lead and think like an adult. So this begs the question, when does one begin that process? For me, it's the sooner, the better. If teaching leadership with the EDGE method, the quicker one gets to the hands-on part, the more engaged the boy will be in the learning process.

      It was interesting to note that when I have the boys demonstrate their skill on TF-FC requirements, I tell them that I know nothing about tying a square knot for example. So the boys have a routine, they stand up, introduce themselves, tell me what they are about to teach, demonstrate it, then help me tie the knot. That simple formula the boys all know pretty well now. One of the boys was looking forward into the upper rank advancements, and said, "Hey, that's the EDGE method." Within 2-3 weeks, all my boys will be able to fulfill the expectations of the Instructor POR and yet they are only 11 years old. By the time they are 13, they will be old-hat with that process.

      I know from 40 years of working with youth that they are far more capable of leadership than we give them credit for.

      Stosh

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      • #18
        Stosh, often I wonder if working with 11 year olds might be easier when it comes to leadership. Sure, you have to ask lots of questions but they aren't afraid to try. 16 and 17 year olds are willing to try and push themselves, as do 11 year olds, but there's a gap between 13 to 15 where being cool and not rocking the boat is more important than challenging yourself. Right now I have few 16-17 year old scouts and am struggling with this.

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        • #19
          …I on the other hand, have 5 boys in a brand new troop and they are all 11 years old…..It’s all a matter of perspective stosh, we started with 12 Webelos. The philosophies of getting from A to Z are basically the same, just in much smaller doses. Young scouts are willing but don’t have the stamina of older scouts for the weight responsibility, which is one more reason why they need more free time outdoors. I found new scouts can stand about three months of group leadership before they burn out. That works for you because there is no election cycle in your troop. But the key is observe and know when the scout has reached his limit. It’s easy to see, when they don’t want to come back, the adults pushed too hard. I agree with the gap MattR mentions, that is also the age where they struggle with uniforms. 16 is a wonderful age for scouts. I found that scouts 15 and under to be the worst Troop Guides. But scouts 16 and older the best, even better than adults.
          Barry

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          • #20
            As MattR points out there is a leadership "gap" in the middle years and I think this ties to Barry's comments on burn out. It's easier to not rock the boat than take on yet another challenge to change.

            One of the major reasons I use the POR structure I use is because, unlike elections, there is not any term limit to get this accomplished. Some boys do well with leadership sprints and can buckle down and focus for the short haul and get the requirement finished in good order. On the other hand there are others who struggle and would rather pace themselves over a longer period of time and it may take them a year to accumulate 6 months worth of leadership. I would rather a boy pace themselves than burn out or just make it to the end and then take a reprieve from the responsibilities of any POR for the next 6 month term.

            One of the major skills of leadership that often times gets overlooked is the ability to pace themselves. As adults we have a tendency to make things worse in this area as well. Boy get elected to SPL. Now it's show time. The full focus of the SM and other adults are trained directly on him and his performance. He jumps out of the starting blocks full steam ahead. But he can't keep that pace for very long. Instead 2-3 months into the term, things start turning sour and by the time 6 months are up, the SMC is focused on: "Gee you started out great but then you quit half way through! What happened?" Of course the boy is going to speak up and say, "It was because all the adults were hounding me to death all along the way, including you the SM, and after a while, I just sort of figured it out that it wasn't worth it." Barry hits this one right on the head.

            Scouting is supposed to be fun, when that doesn't happen, the boy disappears. It's a very fine and delicate line between getting by and burning out. With youth of this age, that line is VERY delicate and needs to be the focus of everything the boy does. I think a lot of adults justify their behavior in this area by blaming the "fumes" rather than taking a serious look at how much they contribute to the problem in this age group.

            This is why I don't press hard on elections and POR terms, but can pace the boys out at an earlier age so as to not burn them out. Maybe all an 11 year old can do is call up the school to find out when open swim is and how much it costs. For him that's a major accomplishment. Celebrate that and then relax. Just because one has found a go-getter, don't go adding extra pressure on him. Let him decide what the next step is on his terms.

            Stosh




            Comment


            • #21
              "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."

              "The SPL assigning everything besides Patrol Leaders is how it's supposed to be. "


              In my youth Scouting, other than PL and SPL, I do not recall our employing other POR's. We functioned differently back then, though we did have a bugler.

              So despite my long experience, I am so very surprised to read the above quotes, and think to myself a stunned "REALLY!?!", because I have in seven years never seen any POR be given out by our SPL, only by, and directly by, the SM to the Scout the SM has decided will fulfill the particular role.

              Have no idea if our SPL is given input behind the scenes, but the roles are certainly assigned to (communicated to) the Scout directly by the SM to the Scout. The impression has always been given very strongly that it is solely the SM's decision who gets what role, when, and for how long, and never having a reason to question it, just assumed it was how it should be happening.

              Also, our Scouts are not allowed to be Webmaster or make any change to, or add any feature to, the website, even with the adult webmaster's supervision.

              Are there circumstances these practices might be preferred in a large Troop with plenty of age and rank variation, since they do not really seem to respect the boy led ideal?

              Comment


              • #22
                The Scoutmaster's Handbook says that normally the SPL assigns the PORs, with Scoutmaster input, but that is up to the Troop to decide. The Scoutmaster can choose all of them if he wants (but that's not exactly boy-led, IMHO). My sons' troop has the SPL choosing the PORs, with some Scoutmaster vetos and input.

                Comment


                • #23
                  The Troop is a Unit type; unit is a generic term used for Packs, Troops, Teams, Crews, Posts, Districts, Lodges, Councils, ect. Think "unit of measure", which refers to a great many things.

                  I understand your concern, and as a former Scout Master have had this talk with many a parent. The first thing to understand is your scout has eight years to earn his ranks, which only require he hold office three times. Most troops have six month terms of office, so this can be done in eighteen of the ninety-six months he has available.

                  The second thing to understand is the troop members elect the SPL, as the patrol members elect the Patrol Leaders, and should be selecting the scouts best suited to lead the troop, and put on a quality program. The SPL appoints his leaders, much as a President appoints his cabinet, and should be making appointments based on a who is best suited to fulfill the duties of each office he has to fill; the point being becoming a top notch scout gets you office appointments.

                  The third thing to understand is there are projects the Scout Master can assign, is there is a true need for both the project, and the scout to fulfill his rank requirement. Sometimes breaks between advancement help a scout grow, or motivate him to become a better scout so that he will be given an appointment.

                  The bottom line is, take a deep breath, let the program work. The only exception I see is if your Troops program doesn't resemble what I've described, if it doesn't the Troop has issues, and you may want to seek a Boy Scout Troop.

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    Originally posted by Old_OX_Eagle83 View Post
                    The Troop is a Unit type; unit is a generic term used for Packs, Troops, Teams, Crews, Posts, Districts, Lodges, Councils, ect. Think "unit of measure", which refers to a great many things.
                    I understand your concern, and as a former Scout Master have had this talk with many a parent. The first thing to understand is your scout has eight years to earn his ranks, which only require he hold office three times. Most troops have six month terms of office, so this can be done in eighteen of the ninety-six months he has available.
                    The second thing to understand is the troop members elect the SPL, as the patrol members elect the Patrol Leaders, and should be selecting the scouts best suited to lead the troop, and put on a quality program. The SPL appoints his leaders, much as a President appoints his cabinet, and should be making appointments based on a who is best suited to fulfill the duties of each office he has to fill; the point being becoming a top notch scout gets you office appointments.
                    The third thing to understand is there are projects the Scout Master can assign, is there is a true need for both the project, and the scout to fulfill his rank requirement. Sometimes breaks between advancement help a scout grow, or motivate him to become a better scout so that he will be given an appointment.
                    The bottom line is, take a deep breath, let the program work. The only exception I see is if your Troops program doesn't resemble what I've described, if it doesn't the Troop has issues, and you may want to seek a Boy Scout Troop.
                    8Yrs? I get 7 yrs--11-12,12-13,13-14,14-15,15-16,16-17,17-18. Until they are first class, there is no use to getting a POR. That takes at least a year in my observation, leaving 6 yrs. So that's more like 18 of 72.
                    I do agree that we too often forget about SM assigned projects, which is an option up to Life. My observation is that the scouts who are not chosen by SPL for a POR often don't want to do a SM assigned project. I think it is because they don't realize how much work the PORs really are in a boy led troop. Boys not chosen by SPL IMHO are mainly the boys who try to avoid work as much as possible.

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      hmmmm, didn't I mention this in post #8 in this thread.


                      I will only offer guidance if the spl asks, we train them and they go at their position. Some succeed and some fail. We mentor along the way....The PLC critics the success and failures.........

                      The first cycle was horrible, it was a popularity contest........The boys learned very quickly, that billy can spin a story but can't plan a campout or event. It stressed some of the boys friendships, but it was a growing experience.

                      This all gets confused by adults trying to jam their scout into positions needed for advancement.

                      Initially it is a lot more work than just doing it myself.

                      Asking the questions when needed, but trying not to do too much for them.......

                      A balance I struggle with every event, outing and meeting.



                      So another scout mom with an son who isn't motivated, popular, skill or fill in the blank..........is worried her scout will never fulfill the POR for his rank advancement......

                      My best advice is patience and back off.....it will come if her scout really wants it.

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Thank you to the participants who respond in a Scout-like, give and take, manner. The other, not as helpful.

                        If it makes a difference, I have no dog in this fight, in the sense that I do not have a Scout son in need of a POR. I am also not a mom, if a certain comment was meant for me.

                        I enjoy hearing varying viewpoints, because no one has all the answers and we should always be willing to learn from others, to improve ourselves as leaders and improve our delivery of the program for the sake of the boys we serve, though when there is an entrenched culture in a Troop, that is not always a shared viewpoint.

                        Thank you all for sharing your thoughts.

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          Originally posted by perdidochas View Post
                          The Scoutmaster's Handbook says that normally the SPL assigns the PORs, with Scoutmaster input, but that is up to the Troop to decide. The Scoutmaster can choose all of them if he wants (but that's not exactly boy-led, IMHO). My sons' troop has the SPL choosing the PORs, with some Scoutmaster vetos and input.
                          Originally posted by perdidochas View Post
                          The Scoutmaster's Handbook says that normally the SPL assigns the PORs, with Scoutmaster input, but that is up to the Troop to decide. The Scoutmaster can choose all of them if he wants (but that's not exactly boy-led, IMHO). My sons' troop has the SPL choosing the PORs, with some Scoutmaster vetos and input.
                          BSA 2014: "All members of a troop vote by secret ballot to choose their senior patrol leader."
                          BSA 2014: “He [the SPL] appoints other troop youth leaders with the advice and counsel of the Scoutmaster.”
                          BSA 2014: "Patrols elect their own leaders, and through these patrol leaders, Scouts have a voice in deciding what activities the troop will put on its calendar.”
                          There is no room in that language for Scoutmasters to appoint anyone to any "POR." They are either elected (SPL/PL's) or appointed by PL's or the SPL.

                          Since advancement is not an objective of Boy Scouting, why have Scouts in POR's? Solely because they are likely to benefit from the opportunity to be responsible. Putting Scouts in POR's solely for purposes of advancement is as inconsistent with Boy Scouting as having adults appointing Scouts to POR's.

                          Hopefully the new Scoutmaster Specific syllabus due out this year will reinforce what is already there but poorly presented.

                          Comment


                          • #28
                            BSA 2014? What publication?

                            Comment


                            • #29
                              After a meeting of the minds, somehow a PL emerges from the patrol. He stays there until the patrol decides otherwise.

                              If an SPL is needed, the PL's figure out which one will do it. He's the PL to the PL's. If the job becomes burdensome, he can take on the SPL full time and his patrol needs to select a new PL. The SPL serves until the PL's decide otherwise.

                              I really don't care how the boys select (not necessarily elect) their leadership, but after many years of working with the boys, the cream always seems to float to the top.

                              To give you an idea of how my boys operate, I use the standard line of march analogy. The Trail Leader is out front. His job it to make sure the trail is safe and clear for everyone following. The second person in line is the navigator. His job it to keep the Trail Leader moving in the right directions according to the map/compass. The slowest person is third in line to regulate the speed of travel. The rest of the boys follow along EXCEPT the PL who is the last person in line. Why the last? Because he's the only one who can see everyone, all the time, without having to turn around and look. No straggler having trouble gets past him and he can bring the march to a halt at any time if someone is having difficulty. He's in total control of the situation and he does it from the rear! It's his job to take care of the group. He carries a whistle to signal the Trail Leader when to stop and when to start.

                              My best scouts learn to lead from the back! All good servants bring up the rear. New an up-and-coming leaders know they are getting groomed for the next step in the leadership development process when they are asked to "bring up the rear." (Technically they are second to the last with the mentoring PL right behind him.)

                              By the way, adults are never in the first, second or last position, always in the middle somewhere, where the boys can keep an eye on them.

                              Stosh

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                Originally posted by perdidochas View Post
                                BSA 2014? What publication?
                                The members of each patrol elect one of their own to serve as patrol leader. The troop determines the requirements for patrol leaders, such as rank and age.


                                http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/...rolleader.aspx April 15, 2014

                                Patrols elect their own leaders, and through these patrol leaders, Scouts have a voice in deciding what activities the troop will put on its calendar. Patrols are one component of what we call youth-run, or youth-led, troop.


                                http://www.scouting.org/Training/Adu...utParents.aspx April 15, 2014

                                All members of a troop vote by secret ballot to choose their senior patrol leader. Rank and age requirements to be a senior patrol leader are determined by each troop, as is the schedule of elections. During a Scout’s time as senior patrol leader, he is not a member of any patrol but may participate with a Venture patrol in high-adventure activities.
                                http://www.bsahandbook.org/PDFs/troop.pdf April 15, 2014

                                accord: Scoutmaster . . . Specific Training at p. 35

                                Large troops may have more than one assistant senior patrol leader, each appointed by the senior patrol leader.
                                http://www.bsahandbook.org/PDFs/troop.pdf April 15, 2014

                                [quote]Different troops have different leadership needs. With the guidance and approval of the Scoutmaster, the senior patrol leader determines which positions will most benefit the troop, then he selects the Scout who will hold each of those positions.[quote]

                                Patrol Leader Handbook (Item 32502) at p. 44

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