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  • What to do when boy leader is unprepared?

    Our troop is less than a year old. We've been meeting since September. The boys have been advancing slowly as they start to figure out the they are responsible for their advancement and not the adults.
    We are finally transitioning to boy led meetings. The first one we had scheduled was a two weeks ago. The SPL/PL was not prepared, however our SM had to do a summer camp presentation so we did that instead.
    The SPL/PL was prepared for the last meeting we had, and things went pretty well. For our next meeting, I am 80% confident the boy who is supposed to do the activity/skills introduction will not be prepared.
    I don't want to "reward" a scout being unprepared for his meeting by having ad-hoc games or an engaging adult-led backup plan, however I don't really want the other scouts to have an unproductive meeting either.

    So my "plan B" is "uniform maintenance". If the boy leader is unprepared, then everyone will sit down and learn to sew on a patch and how to make a small sewing kit for camping. I think it kills two birds: 1. There should be no excuse for missing patches on uniforms. 2. It should be unpleasant enough for the boys to see that we won't have a fun program if they don't prepare.

    I'd like to hear what you guys think, as I feel a little guilty of violating the patrol method in even thinking of a plan B, but the boys are still new to taking on the responsibilities of boy-led.

    What do you think?



  • #2
    Boys need some guidance. "Boy led" doesn't necessarily mean "boy leads off rails, but it also doesn't mean, "paper boy leaders" are you the Scoutmaster? I assume since you refered to him that you are not, but it's worth clarifying? What is your role within the unit?

    It is totally within your units best interest for the Scoutmaster to give him a call sometime during the week to discuss his plan for the next meeting. Especially if the Troop is new or the SPL is young or inexperienced. After maybe 2-3 weeks of calling him to remind him about having a meeting planned out and coordinated, I'm pretty confident your units SPL will start doing things without the Scoutmasters prompting. If he doesn't, he's either woefully immature, or your unit suffers from "Webelos three" syndrome, where the boys don't feel invested in the program because the adults make too many decisions and the boys only figurehead for the adults.

    At the same time, this shouldn't be a permanent arrangement unless the SPL wants it to be. If 4 months into your SPL's term, if the Scoutmaster is still calling him to remind him about the meeting, then again, he's missed the "boy led" thing. The point of the leadership positions is to get them leadership skill and teach them responsibility.

    My other advice is: "STOP BAILING THEM OUT." If they don't have a plan, then let the meeting fall apart. If you continue to cover for them when they don't do what they need to do, then you are totally missing the whole "Boy Led" thing. After a crappy meeting or two, again, they'll realize the reason for making meeting plans and being prepared to execute them.

    Furthermore, make sure (again if you are the Scoutmaster) that you counsel the SPL in what your expectations are for the meetings. Perhaps this is something the PLC needs to discuss. Have you bought your Troop the Troop Program Guide? It has months of sample meeting plans and activities that your PLC could use to help make more exciting meetings. I highly recommend them,

    Lastly, has your SPL and other junior leaders attended an NYLT or NAYLE course? Those allow your SPL and other junior leaders to really see how a textbook troop is run, and their roles inside of it. When I was a youth, I went to NYLT when I was 15. Ideally you should send them as early as possible if you can, 12-13-14 is not too early to send them to one of those courses.

    Is all the Scoutmasters in your unit trained? That is also critical so that your Adult Leaders understand the Program and how it should be run. It's much easier to run the program the way the BSA wants it run than for people to make up their own versions on the fly. (I've seen a unit or two like that, and they lurch constantly between self inflicted crises of their own creation)

    This is an issue that is found in many units. Often times it happens when you have a new boy, or a Scoutmaster who doesn't communicate the expectations for a meeting. Often times new leaders don't really understand what it takes to run the meetings or outings and need a little guidance from the Scoutmaster or Assistant Scoutmaster to get them started. After a few weeks of that, the training wheels should come off, and the Boys should have a rhythm and routine to running their meetings and outings, and then it's important for the Adults to BACK OFF and allow their youth to lead.

    Koolaidman. I'd love to see how my advice matches up or doesn't match with what you think goes on in your troop.

    Anybody else agree/disagree with my assessment?

    Gotta love this Scouting stuff,
    Sentinel947

    Comment


    • eaglewolfdad
      eaglewolfdad commented
      Editing a comment
      I think this is great advice. It is worth noting that the boys have only tried to lead a meeting for the past two weeks. Leading can be a tough task for a new cubmaster or scoutmaster, but given time and training most people get the hang of it. I have attached the ILST program which should be helpful to the scouts and leaders as
      you continue the process and it buys you time until you can get some scouts into NYLT

      http://www.scouting.org/filestore/tr...%20511-016.pdf

  • #3
    First class and 14 years old is the local requirement to attend. Looking at neighboring councils it seems to be the standard.

    Comment


    • Sentinel947
      Sentinel947 commented
      Editing a comment
      Yea, it appears it is, I'd swear there were people younger than that when I went to NYLT 4 years ago. I wonder when that started.

    • rjscout
      rjscout commented
      Editing a comment
      Dan Beard Council allows 13 yo scouts to attend NYLT. Our troop has three 14 yo scouts who are on staff (different week for each scout). I don't know if the average age of the attendees.

  • #4
    Originally posted by Sentinel947 View Post
    Yea, it appears it is, I'd swear there were people younger than that when I went to NYLT 4 years ago. I wonder when that started.
    Must be a council call. St Louis has a minimum age of 12 while most Texas councils are 13

    Comment


    • King Ding Dong
      King Ding Dong commented
      Editing a comment
      eaglewolfdad you are right about GSLAC minimum age but there are some other important requirements

      To take the training, a scout must:
      • Be currently registered as a member of the Boy Scouts of America who has attended long-term Boy Scout camp for a minimum of two years.
      • Be First Class rank or higher.
      • Be at least 12 years old.
      • Be a member of a troop whose Scoutmaster has completed the adult Boy Scout Leader Basic Training
      Course.
      • Be a current or prospective youth leader recommended by his Scoutmaster.
      • Venturing participants must meet the above requirements other than attaining First Class Rank.

      From April 2013 On the Horizon newsletter.

      I do not disagree with the requirements but my oldest has a September birthday and is young so he will likely be Life before he can attend.

      Basement and anyone interested, just finished leader training today (if it ain't rainin, it ain't trainin) and I can't praise our district training staff enough. We had 8 adult patrols of 6-7 leaders and a training staff of at least 18 from our district alone. My patrol had 3 patrol guides. There was a smaller contingent from a few other districts. They also offer Woodbadge twice a year here. Ohio to St. Louis is not that big a trip.

      NYLT at S-F. June 9-15 June 16-22 July 7-13 July 14-20

  • #5
    Additional info: I am ASM. Our oldest scout is 13, all the others are 10-12. Highest rank is Second Class. A neighboring troop provided an ILST class for them a couple of months ago. The original scouts we had did not have the skills as represented by their rank. The troop started up 5 months earlier than initially anticipated. There was quite a bit of chaos in ascertaining exactly what the boys accomplished as they never returned to their other troop after summer camp. Old troop held the advancement records for ransom (balances on scout account. Since I was the only neutral party I had to actually go exchange a check for the troopmaster records). I've been trained the entire time. SM just finished SMS, he's been IOLS since day one. We have one scout that will most likely make First Class before May is out. Another one is somewhat likely, yet another would really have to work to get there by May. We are almost starting from scratch.

    Sentinel: Your advice is about what I expected to hear. We acknowledge exactly where we are and where we are trying to be. We've been directing the boys most of the time and we're in process of handing over the reins. SM and I have agreed that patrol method and POR counseling needs to be our focus for the upcoming year.


    So at this juncture, with the meeting on Monday (I know timing is bad, but that really is a sunk cost now), it would be prudent for the SM to call the SPL/PL to see if he's checked up on the responsible boys to make sure they are ready for the meeting. We will do that.

    Assuming the SM has done the requisite check up during the week and regardless if the SPL does his, if no one is prepared for his section of the meeting how would you handle? How do you teach both the boys the lesson? The SPL has the responsibility to do the checking up and the boy has the responsibility for program content. What's the best way to make the SPL realize that he needs a backup plan without making him feel at fault AND make the boy realize his responsibility at the same time? During the meeting and the after meeting counsel?


    Comment


    • eaglewolfdad
      eaglewolfdad commented
      Editing a comment
      Koolaidman: I believe its okay for them to stumble, a positive discussion between the Scoutmaster and SPL after the meeting is appropriate and will have to occur after every meeting for now. Try to ensure that the SPL does not have several leaders or adults offering advice as you will overwhelm him. This is the Scoutmaster's responsibility. Please see the attached from the ILST handout that references the Scoutmasters role in the process.

      Do note that while we aim to have our youth leaders lead, we do not abdicate all responsibility
      to the Scouts. Adults must play a critical role in advising, providing feedback, and guidance, and
      they are in fact responsible for the troop. Scouts do not call all the shots just because they are
      Scouts. Adults need to work in concert with our young leaders, allowing them the freedom to learn
      from mistakes but also providing guidance as needed.
      Remember the three basic roles of the Scoutmaster: to ensure that the rules and standards of
      the chartered organization and the Boy Scouts of America are followed, to serve as a mentor and
      role model to the Scouts, and to train Scout leader

  • #6
    To help reading, I put your questions in "" and put my replies in * Hope that makes reading this block of text easier!



    "Assuming the SM has done the requisite check up during the week and regardless if the SPL does his, if no one is prepared for his section of the meeting how would you handle? How do you teach both the boys the lesson? The SPL has the responsibility to do the checking up and the boy has the responsibility for program content. What's the best way to make the SPL realize that he needs a backup plan without making him feel at fault AND make the boy realize his responsibility at the same time? During the meeting and the after meeting counsel?"



    *It's good that your unit is doing what you can with trainings, that is excellent. I apologize that my advice was so textbook. You and the Scoutmaster recognize that your assistance with the patrols and POR's need coaching. I'm so glad to see you all want to use the Patrol Method instead of some Webelos 3 style "troop method." *



    *If I may ask a few more questions. What is the size of the troop? Does your SPL use the meeting plan found in the SPL/Scoutmaster Handbook? What generally goes on during your meetings?



    Now let me take a few pokes at your questions.* " Assuming the SM has done the requisite check up during the week and regardless if the SPL does his, if no one is prepared for his section of the meeting how would you handle?"



    *I guess my answer is a question again. What goes on at your meetings? Can you give some examples of what is supposed to happen? Who is missing their section and what are they doing?



    "How do you teach both the boys the lesson?"



    *I might just be giving the textbook answer again, but I think the lesson comes from having a bad meeting or two and the general improvements that come with them realizing they could be having more fun.*



    "The SPL has the responsibility to do the checking up and the boy has the responsibility for program content. What's the best way to make the SPL realize that he needs a backup plan without making him feel at fault AND make the boy realize his responsibility at the same time? During the meeting and the after meeting counsel? "



    *I would definetly try to have you or the Scoutmaster meet with the SPL before the meeting, maybe 5 minutes before so the two of you can make sure you are on the same page. After the meeting it's a good idea for the SPL to conduct a post meeting with his PLC. Just to give them reminders about what needs to happen for next week, to encourage the other leaders when things don't go so well, and to praise them when they do things well. Your and the Scoutmaster being at those Post meetings is a great idea, as long as the SPL drives them. (As usual he may need help the first few times) As far as back up plans go, do you mean a backup plan for his plan? or a backup for when other boys don't show up to the meeting to do their jobs? Sorry for tackling that block out of order.



    It'd be awesome to get a bigger picture of your unit? How many Scouts, what positions have are filled in the Unit?

    I hope you don't think I'm being condescending, That's not my intent at all.



    Yours in Scouting,

    Sentinel947

    Comment


    • #7
      The troop is 10 boys in one patrol. We started with 6 in September. We expect 2 more at the end of May.

      The SPL/PL is using the meeting plan in the SM handbook and utilizing Troop Program Features and Troop Program Resources.

      Prior to now, we had adult leader led instruction, games, whatever during the meetings. Now with the meeting plan different boys lead different parts of meetings with activities the PLC determined.

      Boy A will have pre-meeting game/activity ready to go, Boy B&C will be color guard for flag ceremony, Boy D teaches the skill, Boy D runs the game etc....
      The I'm concerned about is the patrol scribe, who has trouble remembering to write things down (despite reminders).
      He forgets to take attendance (despite reminders) and his mind wanders during the meetings. He's really the main reason we've realized we need to do better POR counseling and that it wouldn't be cool to tell him what a terrible job he's been doing if we haven't coached him properly.

      Overall picture: 3 Second Class, 3 Tenderfoot, 4 Scouts. We have an SPL/PL, APL, Scribe and QM. We have 2 ASMs





      Comment


      • koolaidman
        koolaidman commented
        Editing a comment
        Oh and a backup plan for when boys don't show up/get sick or do their jobs.

      • qwazse
        qwazse commented
        Editing a comment
        Gotta say, KM, you seem right on target with a group of 13-and-under boys.

        Note-taking is a very strange and foriegn act to them. Can I suggest something a little unconventional? For things like attendance, etc ... Teach them a knot language. Instead of taking attendance via check boxes, have a colored chord for each boy into which the scribe ties for each meeting. You would keep this in a scribe's box, which would also have a calendar, etc ... You need to put your thinking cap on to figure out how to make this symbolic.

        You might have different colored beads or totems for chores and assignments. To record an assignment the scribe would tie the totem to the appropriate chord and have. Just an idea. I know boy scouts love paperwork and all, but sometimes we all get a little bit ridiculous with it.
        Last edited by qwazse; 05-05-2013, 05:50 PM.

    • #8
      Leadership is not for the advancement of the individual, it is for the guidance and benefit of those who follow. If a boy is not leading then it is only natural that no one will follow. When this happens then there's going to be a problem. Being prepared is the Scout Motto for a reason. One cannot lead unless they are prepared to lead. Who's going to follow a leader who when asked where we are going, answers: "I dunno".

      When a boy shows up at a BOR and when asked what he did for his POR if he cannot produce any concrete examples, then he basically didn't do anything to earn the advancement except wear a patch. Sorry, in my book that's not leadership.

      What I would teach my boys is that if they are to do a presentation to the group for any reason, they immediately prepare a second one after they have presented. I have had boys that at the drop of a hat have stashed away in the back of their repertoire, a program they can put on at any time. If Scout A isn't doing his job, then Scout B takes over and LEADS. The cream will float to the top and once boys see that this is how one "advances" in the troop they will FOLLOW that example. If all they have to do is wear a patch and get a check box checked, then that's what they will do.

      So, to answer the question about being unprepared? If a boy can't lead teach him. If he doesn't think it is important enough to come prepared to do his part, then what he is telling you, being a leader of others is not on his priority list anywhere.

      Comment


      • #9
        Originally posted by koolaidman View Post
        Our troop is less than a year old. We've been meeting since September. The boys have been advancing slowly as they start to figure out the they are responsible for their advancement and not the adults. We are finally transitioning to boy led meetings. The first one we had scheduled was a two weeks ago. The SPL/PL was not prepared, however our SM had to do a summer camp presentation so we did that instead. The SPL/PL was prepared for the last meeting we had, and things went pretty well. For our next meeting, I am 80% confident the boy who is supposed to do the activity/skills introduction will not be prepared. I don't want to "reward" a scout being unprepared for his meeting by having ad-hoc games or an engaging adult-led backup plan, however I don't really want the other scouts to have an unproductive meeting either. So my "plan B" is "uniform maintenance". If the boy leader is unprepared, then everyone will sit down and learn to sew on a patch and how to make a small sewing kit for camping. I think it kills two birds: 1. There should be no excuse for missing patches on uniforms. 2. It should be unpleasant enough for the boys to see that we won't have a fun program if they don't prepare. I'd like to hear what you guys think, as I feel a little guilty of violating the patrol method in even thinking of a plan B, but the boys are still new to taking on the responsibilities of boy-led. What do you think?
        You are in a tough place. I agree that the boys need to run the show and that they should not be bailed-out, but your tough place is that you have a small, new troop and you risk developing apathy early and that is no good either.

        If you have not had a troop leader training session that might help. Use the "teach a man to fish" model:

        - Show them the tools they have at their disposal like Troop Program Features (vols1-3) or Troop Program Resources
        www.scouting.org/FILESTORE/pdf/33110_WEB.pdf, www.scouting.org/FILESTORE/pdf/33588.pdf

        -
        Walk the SPL through how to run a PLC, how to organize an agenda, how to fill out a meeting planning sheet, etc.

        - Advise them to have primary, seconday and tertiary plans in case something (or someone) falls through.

        Not sure if you trained him up and gave him the tools to do his job, but if you have then the next step is a milestone check or perhaps a refresher. Same goes for the rest of the PLC. They need to take ownership but they need the skills to succeed first. Once this is established that SPL will set the tone for future leaders.‎

        Comment


        • koolaidman
          koolaidman commented
          Editing a comment
          We are indeed guilty of not properly training up the boys. Basically that is the only reason I would even think of having a backup plan in place.

        • koolaidman
          koolaidman commented
          Editing a comment
          forgot to add:
          We've showed them Troop Program Features. We have hard copies at our meeting site and told them where to get it online.
          We've walked the SPL how to run a PLC, how to fill out a meeting plan, etc.
          Have not advised them to have a secondary plan. We will advise the PL that he needs to advise his appointees/volunteers to have their own backup plans in case things go wrong (weather, materials etc), and will also advise PL to have his own plan in case others aren't able to come through.

      • #10
        Update for all concerned: PL blasted a text out to his patrol yesterday reminding those running the show that they need to be prepared. SM had an incidental meeting with the boy I'm concerned about yesterday and brought up tonight's meeting.
        We'll see how it goes. Not certain if we'll come to a fork in the road tonight, but if we do, we'll take it

        Comment


        • Sentinel947
          Sentinel947 commented
          Editing a comment
          Good luck. I'd love to get an update from you when you get done with the meeting.

      • #11
        You do have a difficult challenge with a small troop of boys 13 and under. For perspective, consider how BSA has structured boy scouting for an age range of 10 to 17. Boys join at 10 or 11, wanting to have fun. They first learn to be led. Then they learn to be active participants, followed by taking on continued increasing responsibility for tasks within their patrol and troop. Then eventually, leading others. By the time they are ready to lead others, they have observed other boys leading, and have an idea what they need to do. In a new troop where all the scouts are young, some of them have to skip the steps of being led, of the gradual assumption of increasing responsibility, and are immediately in the position where they are given responsibility for which they are not yet ready. And without the benefit of observing an older boy leading.

        Boys prior to puberty live in the moment. They typically dont associate their lack of preparation during the week with a failed meeting the next Monday night. By Tuesday they have forgotten what they need to do. A reminder call on Wednesday may result in sending out a mass text as you saw, but may not result in any of the boys spending more than a minute or two on any preparation. Next Monday is an eternity. You may need to have each of the SM/ASM meet one on one with the various position holders and give hands-on assistance for several months. For example, the SM spend an hour with the PL one night a week to put the meeting plan together, and sit with him while he calls whomever is on the program (example: calling someone on the city council to come to a future troop meeting to talk). An ASM or committee member meet with the scribe the night after the troop meeting to be there while he completes the meeting minutes and publishes them. Note that these are all things that can be accomplished with a conversation with an older scout, but requires much more one-on-one with a younger scout until he starts to achieve the initiative on his own.

        Let me toss out another idea: forget about advancement for the next couple of years. Boys joined a troop at 10 or 11 for fun and excitement. In their imaginations, they want to be able to live in the woods by themselves (read the book "My Side of the Mountain"). A boy wants to find a buried treasure, live off the land, slay a dragon, be a hero. Help them Focus on outdoor skills,constantly reviewing and building on them incrementally through fun games, competitions, and outings. Don't make orienteering an activity to meet a requirement, make it a search for a long lost pirate's treasure. And the next month, a search for a crashed military plane with soldiers that need the aid of boy scouts that know first aid.


        One additional comment - you asked for thoughts on a meeting plan where sewing was a backup plan, because it would be an unpleasant activity resulting from lack of planning. My thought is that sewing on a patch shouldn't be presented a punishment. I don't think it is even a good group activity. rather, I think it is an opportunity for one-on-one time with a scout during a weekend camp out. It's a kind of thing where you can say to a scout "I see you dont have your 2nd class patch on your shirt. How about if I help you?" Then go sit under an oak tree, show him how to get started, let him try, perhaps take turns for a while, and talk about whatever comes up. You would be amazed at what a boy will talk about while having an informal chat in a one-on-one situation while distracted by something else like sewing on a patch.

        Good Luck; it will take a while, you will be frustrated for a while; keep in mind how you want things 3 or 4 years from now, because it will take that long.

        Comment


        • koolaidman
          koolaidman commented
          Editing a comment
          Thanks for the advice Venividi. It is a pseudo punishment but wouldn't have been presented that way. It would have been a cheerful demonstration of sewing on a patch. If they happened to complain about what they were doing, they'd have been sent to the PL...

      • #12
        Back from meeting. Much to the adults surprise, the boy comes in with printed notes and directions for the boys for his game. (Silver Dollar Hunt from Troop Program Resources). He has one compass and has to ask around for quarters. We let those with phones break them out for the game only so they could use the compass apps. He had his partner and a buddy set up the "silver dollars" (quarters) outside while he explained the game to the patrol. Only one quarter was lost. We (adults) let them play their game, then gave pointers on walking a straight line after taking a bearing then we (adults) explained estimating the height of a tree since we knew none had experience with that before. The boys were able to learn multiple lessons (adults too) and all had a good time. SM was to talk with the PL to let him know its always a good idea for him to have an Ace up his sleeve. We were able to walk away feeling pretty good about the mini chaos that was our second boy-led meeting. I know the chaos is more in our adults heads than anywhere else. It was a good meeting.

        Thank you to everyone who chimed in. If anyone has additional comments they are still appreciated.

        Comment


        • Sentinel947
          Sentinel947 commented
          Editing a comment
          Glad to see everything went over well. I'd say you have a good grasp on what needs to happen. Hopefully next Monday evening you can bring back a report of another successful meeting.

          Yours in Scouting,
          Sentinel947

      • #13
        KDD, I am in total agreement with you about the Horizon District Training, I took the Outdoor Leader course at Beaumont years ago when we lived in the area. The training was set up exactly as you described and was terrific.

        My son took NYLT at S-F for the week after summer camp and describes it as the the best training he ever received in Scouting. He had just turned 13 at the time. He has since earned his eagle and has taken OLSI and Wood Badge. You are very fortunate to be in an area with so many Scouters committed to the program and willing to donate enormous hours to our youth.








        Comment


        • #14
          Boy Led Update: Last weeks meeting with another boy to take the lead in skills introduction (to prepare for orienteering course FC#2):
          Boy must have heard that a couple of scouts were going to be pulled out to complete TF 10a/10b and single-handedly decided that the meeting was going to be all about fitness, despite what was agreed on by the PLC.
          Inquiries as to how the idea got in his head were fruitless, so I proposed: You have an orienteering activity in one week that requires being able to use a map and compass, being able to walk off a required distance, estimating the height of something and estimating the distance across something.
          I have not seen anyone practice estimating the distance across something, so tell me, do you think you should be working on a requirement that most of you have been signed off on, or do you think you should be preparing for your orienteering course?
          Further went to use the white board to draw a picture of a possible scenario. One scout starts flipping through handbook. They agree that they don't know how to estimate distance. I tell them its all in the book.

          They take turns reading aloud how to do it. I ask them which method they think would work best. One scout replies the compass method, another prefers the salute method. I invite them to go outside and try them both out.
          I asked the boy in charge of the skills introduction to teach them how to do the compass method, (with my help when they didn't quite understand it). They all took turns and I could see that they were struggling, but I did my best not to interfere.
          After all had taken turns with the compass method, I asked the other scout, what method was it that you preferred? He said he liked the salute method, and I said "Why don't you work with the other boys on that?" They all do.

          After practicing both, I asked them which they thought may be the best one to go with for the orienteering course, and they all agreed the salute method was probably the best choice for the course.

          I'm sure everyone here will be glad to hear that I returned my stash of thimbles to Wally World the next day.





          Comment


          • qwazse
            qwazse commented
            Editing a comment
            I see you only returned the thimbles. Must mean you're gonna have them make compasses with the needles.

          • koolaidman
            koolaidman commented
            Editing a comment
            I need the needles so I can l can literally be a thorn in someone's side.
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