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Who makes the best Scout Master

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  • Who makes the best Scout Master

    So, after reading about the differences here and there between CUB Scouting and BOY Scouting...I'm just curious: What - in YOUR OPINION makes a better Scout Master or ASM: A former DL, CM, ACM, or just a new parent or adult leader who had no position( but is properly trained)?

    On the surface, I would want to think a former Cub leader of some sort - wether CM, ACM or a DL would be better..

    But after reading in this site about the different styles , procedures and programs..I am almost inclined to think a Non Cub experienced person might be better.

    Why? Because in my experience as a former fire fighter and in my current position at work... I have learned that sometimes it easier to train a new person from scratch than to re-train a person who is set in their different ways.

    Your more experienced SCOUT thoughts here!

  • #2
    A common practice, and not a good one, is to take barely retired DL and turn him immediately into an ASM. He still has a DL mind set, and so do the boys. A new Scouter/parent should take a breather, attend parent/committee meetings and troop meetings, take some training, and ... take some time off. Then figure out what he wants and where he's needed.


    • #3
      You can not generalize. It depends on the individual.


      • #4
        Well, I know there is not a "one size fits all" answer. Same with me at work, but "MOST" of the time is more right.

        In case your wondering, I have no intentions of becoming a SM or ASM.
        I am a ADL now, will be a Webelos leader next year and the year after. Then I will stick with the Cubs wherever I can be best utilized.

        I figure I have worked with my son since he was a Wolf and will work with him through WI and WII.

        By the time he is a SCOUT, it will also be time for me to step back, cut the strings and let him do his own thing. I'll have the rest of my life to give any advice he asks for and some he doesn't ask for, but needs.

        But as a Scout and a kid, he ought to have some seperation and room to breath. I mean, he can't spread his wings if I'm doing all the flying right?

        So, again,in case you were wondering, I have no plas to be a SM or ASM..I was just curious.


        • #5
          Truly depends on their scout spirit...there are folks who have been scouts and scouters for years, with a scouting CV a mile long, yet their scout spirit stinks, to put it plainly. Why they stick around is a mystery.

          On the other hand, there are men and women with zero scouting experience who "get it" from day one...the scout oath and law are creeds they were already living before they became scouters, and their willingness to serve--and not be served--is evident to all. Just one of these adults is worth a dozen of crusty old know it alls.


          • #6
            Along with a host of other skills, a Super Cub/Web Leader is one who has great organizational skills and a passion for making sure everything is properly prepared, communicated, and executed according to his/her excellent plan.
            They go into shock when they move into most boy-run troops where we allow the boys to make mistakes and learn from them. What they see at the meetings and campouts is older boys being inefficient at running things and adults (SM and Staff) who obviously don't care or they would be jumping in to take over. They don't see the behind the scenes PLCs, Troop JLTs, and weekly leadership communication. For some, it takes a long time until they understand it's our goal to grow the boys, not just run efficient activities.

            Former Cub leaders have demonstrated their willingness to serve. This alone is a great asset. They have great potential to be excellent Boy Scout leaders, too, but need an intentional transition to move from Cub Methods to Boy Scout Methods. There is still a place for great organizational skills, etc., but it's more behind the scenes supporting summer camp registration, fund-raising, record-keeping, logistics planning, etc. In other words, on the Troop Committee.

            Our new adults always start off in the Troop Committee where we get to know each other during their adjustment period. They are encouraged to camp with us, if desired, but we make it clear it's the job of SM and AsstSM's work directly with the boys. In other words, they are not supposed to hang around patrol campsites and should not be telling boy leaders how to do their jobs. Frankly, it's much more difficult to train the parents than the new 11-yr old.


            • #7

              Former DL's make very good scout leaders. As mentioned earlier they have a predisposition to serve. They finish what is asked of them. What an ASM or committee member will be asked to do when they first join the troop is well within the bounds of seasoned adult cub leader. They may be asked to help the QM sort out or stage the gear for a trip but they won't be asked to make judgements on his scout spirit or POR.

              Another example are the subtleties of the Advancement Chair in coaching and directing BOR's. This I have found requires a seasoned scouter to plan and guide the adults. Sitting on the board can be something for a newly crossed adult. Also the grub-master for the adult patrol and other food related responsibilities seem to fall on the new adults.

              But your question is who makes the better scoutmaster a cub leader or one who was never a cub leader? My opinion a Cubber will.


              • #8
                Whether Cubber, someone with no scouting expereince, or and Eagle Scout is better all depends upon the individual.

                Now I've seen a bunch of Cub Scouters move up with their sons into troops, and need a year or so to "unlearn" and be "retrained." heck I fell into that probelem with the OA after I stepped down as OA chapter adviser to become a TCDL, I went to a chapter meeting and needed to be reminded by good friend to 'sit down and shut up" Luckily I'm a quick learner. But I know of a few who have made the transition from CS to BS easily. That same friend above made the trasnision very smoothlyfrom CM to ASM. Then again, he was chomping at the bit fro his son to join scouting and IMHO he guided his son to the most boy led unit int he district. The key for those folks is to sit back, get trained and observe how the troop and PLC run for a year or so. Very different from CS where you get recruited as a DL at round up, and given a list of resources and told "Have Fun Mr/s. Den Leader"

                Now I've met some folks with no scouting experience who make great SMs. Usually they have a very good foundation in outdoor skills via the military, understand the chain of command and patrol concepts, and need some training to be round out their knowledge and understand the BSA. The SM inthe above unit is an exampel of that. Now grant you some prior military can go a little overboard, so it all depends. Also I've met some great parents with no outdoors background who soak up the training and get it. 'Fish seems to be one of those, and I encourage all the training and cup of coffee talks to guide those folks.

                As for the last group, the Eagles. I'll be the first to say they aint perfect, but they have an excellent foundation. But they do need some trainign and mentoring. I know that as a 19yo ASM, I screwed up royally one summer camp and reverted back to my old ASPL role for about 36 hours when left in charge (the other adult in camp was a new parent). Luckily the SM came to camp to stay, heard and saw what was going on, and we had a friendly cup of coffee. And I am glad i had it. Mentoring is great.

                So I say Eagles may need some training b/c within the methods of Scouting, there is a variety of ways of doign things. Every troop is different, and what may have worked for you troop may not work for the troop you are in, and vice versa. case in point, One Eagle whose son is a TC int he other den, asked about the formation the pack was going to use for the Christmas parade. And we discussed how his troop would actually march in patrol formations calling cadences. had to tell him that marching is not as emphasised in Scouting as it use to be.

                So it all depends. I liek the idea of putting new folks in the committee to see how things go and to get them acclimated to the program. I have foudn that it is hard sometimes for adults to let kids do things and screw up. It seems like there is pressure todo things correctly all the time, but sometimes mistakes are the best life lessons. And it is best to learn young!


                • #9
                  Yah, generally speakin', I'd say a fellow who makes a great Cubmaster makes a lousy Scoutmaster. It's two different skill sets and personality types eh? Great Cubmasters bring a lot of organization and high-energy goofiness and relate well to kids of that age. They're take-charge showmen. Great Scoutmasters bring a lot of mentoring, encouragement, and willingness to let kids be independent. They enjoy being with adolescents and young teens.

                  Similarly da great Scoutmaster often makes a lousy Venturing Advisor, eh? Venturing advisors maintain collaborative, junior-peer relationships with older teens, and listen carefully to kids of that age group. Lots of Scoutmasters also don't do great with young ladies.

                  So from what I've seen, each program does best with adults that have a certain personality and set of talents, eh? And generally speakin', very few adults have the breadth of talent and the ability to shift their thinking to be successful across different programs.

                  I think, BTW, that da same thing applies to commissioners. A fellow who deeply understands the cub program often doesn't give great advice and support to a crew, and a lady who has Boy Scouting in her blood often pushes Cub Scouters in wrong directions. Commissioners do best when they stick with a program.



                  • #10
                    Scoutmaster is no little thing, and is far more than what you think you are signing up for. For me, the best Scoutmasters have big hearts, a well-developed sense of fun, a nose for adventure, the ability to give and get respect, an almost unquestioning dedication to both the program and the Scouts, and a sense of how to hang back and let the boys lead without interference from him/herself or other adults. They need to play the role of teacher, of taskmaster, of gatekeeper, of mentor, of public relations man, of referee, of car driver, and of parent, and a million others on top of that.

                    To put it another way, my own Scoutmaster - not the parents - recieved at least one call from jail from a "you get one phone call" deal at 2 in the morning. He went out, bailed the young man out of jail, chewed him out horribly on the way to his parents, and then did everything he could to help out, even showing up at all the court dates as support. That case was extreme, but he did that and would have done that for any one of "his boys". From the first day of his Scout service up to this very moment, years after he has left Scouting, he will still do anything he can to help in any way he can. To me, that more than anything else is what makes the best Scoutmaster. A man with that sort of dedication can, and in this case did, take a group of boys anywhere.

                    Where these sort of people come from - Cub Scouts, former Scouts, among the parents, community members, or some combination of these - is inconsequential. I've seen great Scout leaders who "get it" who were Eagles and who never Scouts, who had multiple kids in their troop or none at all, who were recruited from the community with no Scouting experience or who came straight from years of Cub Scouts. I'm not convinced that any of those four groups is necessarily a "better place" than any other for finding good Scoutmasters.(This message has been edited by JerseyScout)


                    • #11
                      My observation is a little different, but then I started as a CM and ended as SM. I fully agree that the job of CM is completely different than the SM.

                      A good CM is very hands on with the boys while a good SM is very hands off. That is a big shift, but not hard if the SM has a vision.

                      Strangely, I think the adults who are a bit of an attention seeker make a pretty good CM but make a horrible SM.

                      I think adults who have a bit of the clown or entertainer make are good CM qualities, but again horrible qualities of a SM.

                      A good CM has to be Johnny on the spot because there is always a scout who didnt get his award. The SM is the opposite and must learn to sit on his hands because he/she trains the scouts to be the Johnny on the spot and the SM wants to see how they handle it.

                      I have worked with hundreds of SMs and I dont think you can know how good they will be before they start because there is such a learning curve at the beginning. However, I have found that the ones who start out with both feet running typically had a good boy scout experience as a youth. Not always the case, but in general those guys have a big advantage because they remember the fun side of scouting, not just the business side.



                      • #12
                        In practice I would almost always take an experienced Cub leader over someone with no experience. Assuming, of course, that the other characteristics were relatively equal. I want someone who is familiar with the program, and in addition, that person usually has the advantage of knowing the other parents and has a good relationship with them, knows how the CO works, knows the logistics, knows some of the Scouts, etc. For the same reason, I would probably take an effective Cub Scout leader over an unknown Eagle Scout. Among the different experiences as Cub Scout leaders, I'd probably give a slight nod to the CM, as he has more experience with some of the aspects of unit leadership. But individual characteristics are going to trump everything.

                        Now, all of the traits that have been mentioned above are relevent, eh? There are certain traits you look for in a CM, and there are other traits you look for in an SM.

                        Like Barry, I've been both. I suspect he did very well at both jobs, and as objective as I can be about myself, it looks like I've been relatively effective at both as well. As CM, I put on a show. It was great fun, but actually, as SM, it's kind of a relief not to have to do that every month. They are very different positions, but there are certainly some skill sets that are relevant to both.

                        So, to answer Scoutfish's original question, I think the characteristics that make a great Scoutmaster are primarily things that are not listed in the question. But some proof of effectiveness and knowledge of the person's temperament are the best thing you can get, and some experience in the program is a secondary factor. Does it take some time to re-train? Yes, but I think it takes longer to train from scratch.

                        In reality, though, we're usually picking a SM from a very small pool.


                        • #13
                          Three qualities that I think are absolutely essential for a good SM are basic faith in the abilities of teenage boys to do things for themselves, a great deal of calmness and patience to allow the boys to learn and stumble and pick themselves back up and keep trying, and good communication skills.

                          All the rest can be learned or taught, as long as they're willing to invest the time to learn it. It certainly is also important to have some outdoor skills, or at least be committed to developing those skills, because the boys need to learn from someone, somewhere, and an SM who can't camp will hold the boys back. But the best outdoorsman or -woman in the world might still be a lousy SM if he or she lacks the basic temperament.

                          I have seen a couple of SMs who were very enthusiastic, loved scouting, and had strong outdoor skills, but who lacked the patience to let the boys learn to lead or did not believe boys really could be independent. This resulted in those adults stepping in and taking over. I have seen some others who could not share their vision and could not mentor effectively because they couldn't communicate well (often these people also talk A LOT without actually saying anything!). Sometimes I wondered whether they even knew what they were trying to say, themselves.

                          So those are the key traits I'd look for. Oh, and they had better actually like teens, and a good sense of humor help, too.


                          • #14
                            >>Scoutmaster is no little thing, and is far more than what you think you are signing up for. For me, the best Scoutmasters have big hearts, a well-developed sense of fun, a nose for adventure, the ability to give and get respect, an almost unquestioning dedication to both the program and the Scouts, and a sense of how to hang back and let the boys lead without interference from him/herself or other adults. They need to play the role of teacher, of taskmaster, of gatekeeper, of mentor, of public relations man, of referee, of car driver, and of parent, and a million others on top of that.


                            • #15

                              As a 4.5 year Cub Leader (TDL, DL, CM x 2, and Pack Trainer) who's son just bridged to a troop last week and who's given alot of thought to what to do next, here are the things that I think are important to be a good SM:

                              - a generosity of spirit that allows you to commit a realistic amount of your time and energy to your troop, while still maintaining a balance at home.

                              - at least in my case, a realization of the growth and development that your own son is going through and a sense that the changes that are occuring in your relationship with him are similar to those that happen when you move from Cubs to Scouts (i.e. need to step back, allow more independence, less dictating, etc.)

                              - an ability not only to communicate very effectively, but also an incredible amount of patience, as LisaBob says.

                              - finally, the mindset that you don't know everything and that there is a great deal of learning that you as SM must do before you can be an effective mentor/guide for your SPL and PLC.

                              Cub leaders per se aren't any better or any worse that non-Cub's more about who you are than what you've done. Some Cubbers have "it" and some never will.