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Watching a Scout rise without leadership / what's a Scouter to do?

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  • Watching a Scout rise without leadership / what's a Scouter to do?

    I'm watching a young man with initiative get all his Eagle MB's and be ready (by the book) for Life at age 13, this May. His leadership / responsibility to date is Scribe and Den Chief. As you likely know, your mileage may vary with Den Chief from great to lackluster.

    I'm saddened because he has just been elected ASPL. If he does well, he'll learn and grow as ASPL and make a contribution. Then I can rest easy with him as an Eagle Candidate. If he does poorly, he's "served his time" and qualifies for Eagle. However, I'm glad I don't have to sign his application as SM or TCC and I certainly won't sign his book under leadership as an ASM.

    So, I just tipped my hand. I'm just an ASM that is an Eagle from the 80's. Am I being to harsh? Guide to Advancement says that Units can neither add nor subtract from the rules. In particular, Units may not add requirements / goals to youth for Leadership / Responsibility after elected. So on paper, he completed the requirement. It is unlikely that a District / Council BoR would "fail" him at his Eagle BoR.

    It seems the only latitude a Troop has with a Life Scout is for the SM to tell all ASM's to refuse to sign off on Leadership / Responsibility unless the Scout achieves a set of pre-defined goals. All the guidebooks say about ASPL is that it qualifies for this requirement and that you are "one heartbeat away from SPL". That's pretty poorly defined.

    The wisest advice I got was to hold the Scout to his "campaign promises" he made to his fellow Scouts. That is his true litmus test of success because he set the goals himself. The only other people that could legitimately set goals are the SM and SPL.

    Should I just bite my tongue and let the great Scoutmaster in the sky decide at the pearly gates of Gilwell? Should I push the SM and SPL? Should I use the ILST as the opportunity to lock-in those campaign promises as his measure of advancement? Is that even allowed?

  • #2
    We have all leaders set objectives for their leadership role. They must follow the role description and they must meet those objectives during their tenure or they don't get credit. Also, if during that time they don't "live the Oath and Law" we document that too. If at any point during that timeframe they are at risk of not getting credit we have an SMC to warn them. They either step up or don't, so it's up to them. This sounds like a problem (moving too fast) that should have been handled long ago. One thing I will tell you, making Eagle before high school is not looked on as much of an accomplishment by colleges. It is MUCH more impressive to colleges that scouts earn their Eagle in high school -- when they are super busy -- than in middle school when kids are far less spread out.

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    • #3
      That may be the case and a smart Scout would then hold of on his EBOR until he was in high school.

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      • #4
        Or, it could be that the scout is doing his best and performing a a reasonable level for his age. Evaluate him over the next month, if he assists the SPL, shows up prepared for meetings including your PLC, and fills in where necessary, etc ... stop worrying. If not pick one thing to improve upon in the next month. If he does, next month give him another thing. (Do this in consultation with the SPL by asking "how do you think you'll need your sidekick to help you in the coming month?") If the boy does nothing, remove him from office. Give him a month to decide if there's another POR where he would like to contribute. Stop judging a kid by age. Rather, attend to his actions. How is this hard?

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        • #5
          Fortunately for the scout, the requirement is position of responsibility not "leadership." He will demonstrate leadership in his Eagle project, and that's the only advancement reference to leadership. Unfortunately for the scout, this ASM knows neither the requirements for Eagle nor the responsibilities of the ASPL, but wants to stop scouts from advancing anyway.

          BSAHandbook.org has good descriptions of the responsibilities of each position of responsibility, ASPL reads:
          "The assistant senior patrol leader works closely with the senior patrol leader to help the troop move forward and serves as acting senior patrol leader when the senior patrol leader is absent. Among his specific duties, the assistant senior patrol leader trains and provides direction to the troop quartermaster, scribe, historian, librarian, instructors, and Order of the Arrow representative. During his tenure as assistant senior patrol leader he is not a member of a patrol, but he may participate in the high-adventure activities of a Venture patrol. 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

          The GtA has provisions for scouts who are not meeting the requirements of their position of responsibility. They are to be counseled early, given specific goals, and checked regularly. If they are failing in their responsibilities, they are to be made aware of the problem early and given correction. If they continue to fail, then they may be denied credit for the position.

          If you feel the scout has been whisked through the advancement program, that's your troop's problem, not his problem. If he can't tie a bowline he didn't magically sign himself off, someone in your troop did it. If he poo-pooed his previous PoRs, he didn't give himself credit, someone in your troop did. The time to address any issues he may or may not have was before you all signed him off, not now that he's about to get Eagle before you think he should even though he has met virtually the same requirements that you did in the 80s.

          Welcome to the forum, hope you find it a valuable resource.
          Last edited by Scouter99; 05-02-2014, 08:14 PM.

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          • #6
            S99 has some great points. As a general rule, I tell Life scouts that nobody is going to care about what position patch is on their sleeve, but the will be asked what they accomplished in that position. I encourage my adults to ask the "what did you do" questions more than "what patch" questions.

            My observation: the most responsible boys will promptly list everything they didn't do. They are their own worst critics when it comes to management failure. The real challenge as an adult is recognizing leadership when you see it and encouraging the boys positively. (BTW: this includes "natural leader" things like rallying the patrols to do some impromptu activity that has adults scrambling to adjust schedules/ get out of bed/ ensure safety, or making sure to talk to the new boy from another school who might be having a tough time relating to every scout, etc ... .)
            Then, when a boy is reflecting on his scouting career, you need to get him to him recall the things he did do that positively impacted the life of the unit.

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            • #7
              One has to remember that fulfilling the requirements of attaining rank involves management skills, but no leadership is required. As Scribe, to fulfill the duties of the Scribe one does not have to lead anyone in the process. Same for Librarian, Historian, WebMaster, etc. They do the task/job and that's all that is required, that is effective management, not leadership. Even PL's that "get the job done" may not need leadership skills to do it if they are well organized and lay out required tasks for the boys to do, i.e. duty rosters, etc.

              The only requirement that involves "leadership" is the Eagle Project, and that can be done with a modicum of leadership. Letting the boys know of the work day, is not real leadership, but if they show up, a bit of it must have been there. If the SM requires them to be there for the project, then it's the leadership/directive of the SM the boys are following anyway and not the Eagle candidate.

              Unless one is spending time teaching leadership skills instead of management skills, the boys probably aren't going to pick up much along the way unless they are a natural leader and would have been successful as a leader anyway.

              An easy test to figure out whether the boy is displaying leadership or management is to ask the question, are the boys doing the work because they have to or because they want to? It's easy to tell the difference.

              Stosh

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              • #8
                It is easy to pass out job descriptions. What I am wondering is what kind of leadership training he has had/will have. I assume he has been through the troop leadership training by someone qualified. Has he also been through the Council's training program?

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                • #9
                  Good point. I assumed not, because the OP asked about "ILST as the opportunity to lock-in those campaign promises". Plus this period is between our council's usual leadership trainings. But, we obviously don't know about opportunities in this particular council. Or if this a troop (like mine) where leadership training is not mandatory.

                  So, how many of you consider attending specific out-of-unit training part of fulfilling a PoR?

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                  • #10
                    Nope, fulfilling a POR is the only part of fulfilling a POR, nothing more, nothing less. Over the years, I have only had two boys take NYLT as a leadership development opportunity. Both Eagled, both thought the program to be a waste of time and money. I wouldn't know, I only go on what they have told me. I'm unfamiliar with the program and I'm not seeing many chomping at the bit to get to it in our council.

                    Stosh

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by jblake47 View Post
                      Nope, fulfilling a POR is the only part of fulfilling a POR, nothing more, nothing less. Over the years, I have only had two boys take NYLT as a leadership development opportunity. Both Eagled, both thought the program to be a waste of time and money. I wouldn't know, I only go on what they have told me. I'm unfamiliar with the program and I'm not seeing many chomping at the bit to get to it in our council.

                      Stosh
                      We did some research in our council and found that the scouts who got the least from the course were from troops with scoutmasters who didn't have a clue what the course was teaching. Of course there are the few SMs who just think they know it all, but most SMs are in the dark because the course didn't do much to bring the troop leaders up to speed. How can a SM support new ideas when they don't really know what those new ideas are?

                      Our council started requiring each troop to provide an adult for day of orientation that explained the intent of the course and then help the adult and the scout build a plan to work the three main gaols (ticket items). The council got a lot of praise by the troops after tha because they could see the scouts making a difference to the program.

                      Performance is a direct result of expectation and development. As result quality of units in a council can be raised by the expectations of the council. Training programs set the expectations and the quality of a whole council or district can be raised or lowered by the quality of training of the higher level. And while I think our council did a really good job of raising troop performance through our JLT program, I have concluded that it's the adults who could really benefit the most from taking the NYLT course. Barry

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                      • #12
                        Both boys who were involved, took it prior to me taking over as SM.

                        The troop I was involved with for 15 years prior to that did not send any boys to NYLT during that time. It was adult-led and so they didn't think there was any need for it.

                        My boys now are all too young for NYLT, so for 20 years, I have not had contact with the program except for the annual begging and pleading one gets to try and get boys to the program.

                        Roundtable does very little if anything to promote the program other than "send your boys!" Maybe they could work a bit on their marketing approach.

                        Stosh

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by jblake47 View Post
                          My boys now are all too young for NYLT, so for 20 years, I have not had contact with the program except for the annual begging and pleading one gets to try and get boys to the program.

                          Roundtable does very little if anything to promote the program other than "send your boys!" Maybe they could work a bit on their marketing approach.

                          Stosh
                          As I said, unless you understand the course, it's unlikely your scouts would use much of what they learn. And unless the SM understands the gaols of the course, the scouts themselves might not understand what they learned anyway. It's not as if they get a lot of time on how to apply their lessons. NYLT might be better than the old course there, but experts tell us that at best we come home with 15% of everything thrown at us.

                          As I said, quality of a program set by expectations. Expectations always come from a higher authority, whether that be the SM or council. If the council isn't setting expectations on the units (adults) of NYLT or even Junior Leadership Develop, then the council as a whole deserves the quality of junior leadership that it gets. I had once wrote a Council Junior Leadership Development Guide for the troops that expressed the council's expectations for leadership development from a scouts first day all the way to NYLT director. Well it was JLTC back then. But we even included course staffing as part of leadership development. I guess I could have even included Wood Badge, but I can't imagine scouts getting better training than our youth leadership program at the time. LOL

                          Barry

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                          • #14
                            Eagledad, when I went to pick up my son from NYLT many years ago I asked one of the course directors what I needed to do to further what my son learned and he didn't know what to say. So I asked him what the number one thing I should work on with the scouts that took the course and he finally said to get everyone in the troop wearing their uniform correctly. That's leadership? Your idea of ticket items and working with the SM is great, but why can't the people that designed this course figure that out?

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                            • #15
                              NYLT was designed by a national committee but also, to my own personal knowledge, by input from adult staff I participated in counseling the paid Scouter in charge to: 1) allow the staff to prepare their own slides for their sessions; and 2) allow female participates a year before originally planned. Both of these suggestions were accepted during the initial telephone conversation.

                              I hope for more attention to dealing with adult resistance to the Patrol Method. We'll see.

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