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Pros and Cons of the Junior Assistant Scoutmaster position

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  • #16
    After reading all the responses, there are obviously differing opinions on how to best proceed with this Scout. I do appreciate all of the advice. I plan to meet with the Scout to find out more details on his personal goals and what I can do to help support him. I am going to make sure we will put him in a position to lead and mentor the younger scouts and benefit the troop (just added another dollar to the jar, Kudu). Right now, I am leaning towards having him spend some time as a troop (there’s another buck) guide before considering JASM.

    Comment


    • desertrat77
      desertrat77 commented
      Editing a comment
      Best wishes apothecus...even more important than particular roles/patches, is getting the scouts outdoors as often as possible. There are any number of ways to organize, but troops that grow, and stay alive, are troops that are hiking and camping.

  • #17
    Kudu wrote: "Because in the Troop Method, Patrol Leaders are the fifth (5th) tier in leadership talent (JASM->SPL->ASPL->TG->TI->PL)."

    I often run into others that support such a structure which is not as Kudu says, "leadership talent". What you have here is a management organizational chart of delegation. It has nothing to do with leadership. In management, the accomplishing of a task is the goal and top down delegation gets it done. This all can happen in a leadership vacuum. Basically the SM sets forth the task, delegates down to where the PL gets "stuck" with the ultimate responsibility of getting it done.

    In my troop I simply flip this management organization chart up-side-down and have the PL at the top. He is the "highest" ranking officer in the troop. He knows what is going on with his boys and they FOLLOW him because he's doing what is best for the patrol. If he needs help or advice, he has the SPL to go to. If the SPL isn't going to help him, he's not going to FOLLOW him anywhere. If the others in the troop are of no help, the PL is on his own and will FOLLOW no one. He is only going to go to someone that can help him and if he finds that person, he'll FOLLOW him.

    That is leadership, not management and it is all personality based, NOT task based. The task will get done by any and all who know their leader has their back and aren't going to get jerked around by some inept manager.

    Leadership training starts and ends with. "Do what it takes to help your boys. If you do, they'll follow you anywhere!"

    Stosh

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    • qwazse
      qwazse commented
      Editing a comment
      One of my vivid scouting memories: my SPL teaching me how to restart a fire from coals. Not sure where that fits in on everyone's goofy "ladder of patches", but all I remember was I was the clueless kid who wanted the cooking to get started sooner rather than later, and he was the scout patient enough to see that I accomplished my goal. Far as I know, he never criticized the PL for not doing his job and properly supervising the fire-starting detail. He didn't employ some "Troop Instructor." (Seriously, when was that patch first issued?) He just did what he figured the most experienced guy in the troop should do.

      As a result, I never saw SPL as some management position, but more like the troop's "oldest brother."

    • jblake47
      jblake47 commented
      Editing a comment
      Servant Leadership really works! You and a ton of other scouts have found that out. We had a troop in our district that had a dozen or so really young scouts and just one older boy. Of course they made him the SPL. After a couple of camporees of watching the little guys follow him around as if they were all tied to him, he picked up the nickname "Mother Hen". I am sure none of those young scouts ever gave him grief, nor said no to any request the SPL may have asked. Management style scouts are the ones complaining about getting no respect and have to deal with repetitive no's when telling others to do something.

      As far as the "ladder of patches" goes, the PL runs his patrol (patrol-method) everyone else supports him in that process and I don't care if it's an SM, SPL, TG, QM or what,... whatever it takes to make the PL successful. That's where the rubber meets the road when it comes to the patrol members.

      Hypothetically... a PL/APL team for some reason can't be at an event, leaving 6 boys without a leader. They get together and decide to ask the ASPL if he can be the PL for the event. Sure, why not. He's the boy they have had experience with and has been helpful in the past and would be an easy choice to start asking for help. Help, help and help, all related to Servant Leadership. Who, in their right mind, would ever ask the scout with a demanding management style scout to be their temporary PL?

      Stosh

    • Venividi
      Venividi commented
      Editing a comment
      jblake writes: We had a troop in our district that had a dozen or so really young scouts and just one older boy. Of course they made him the SPL. After a couple of camporees of watching the little guys follow him around as if they were all tied to him, he picked up the nickname "Mother Hen".

      That is what I like about mixed aged patrols. It puts scouts in a situation where leadership can happen naturally, because young scouts look up to an older, experienced PL. He already has had adventures that they want to have, has skills that they envy. The PL in turn gets a feeling of self worth because he is able to share his knowledge with those that do not yet have it. It is a structure that helps foster success for leadership development (older scout), and skills development (younger scouts).

  • #18
    /

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    • jblake47
      jblake47 commented
      Editing a comment
      Well said!

      Stosh

  • #19
    Stupid editor. I will try again.>>This all can happen in a leadership vacuum. Basically the SM sets forth the task, delegates down to where the PL gets "stuck" with the ultimate responsibility of getting it done.

    Comment


    • #20
      I give up. LOL

      Comment


      • jblake47
        jblake47 commented
        Editing a comment
        Ain't technology a beautiful thing!

        Stosh

      • jblake47
        jblake47 commented
        Editing a comment
        Let me pick up at where I think you might be going with this.

        Yes, leadership can be completely kept out of the equation if the process is purely managerial. The SM tells the SPL to make sure everyone's area has enough water. He defines the task that needs to be done. Okay, the SPL tells the PL's to make sure their patrol has water. The PL then tells someone in his patrol to go and get the water jug filled. The boy singled out for the task, begrudgingly picks up the jug and hikes off to the water source. The task gets done, purely managing a task to be done. But the human element in the process is simply not there and the young boy learns that when he gets older things will be better because he will be able to tell younger boys what they have to do.

        On the other hand, the SM makes the comment that he hopes everyone has water available. No directive, just a comment. The SPL picks up on it and to ease the SM's concern (helps him out) goes to each PL and asks if everyone has water. The PL, concerned that this might be a problem, asks his patrol if they have enough water, and one of the boys says, the jug is almost empty, but he'll (take the lead) on getting the boys together and they'll go get the water jug filled.

        Or one better, one of the boys notices the jug is empty and out of concern for his buddies just up and gets the jug filled. That's the ultimate servant leader.

        There are times when tasks are identified out of a concern for others and a comment along those lines may be made, but the servant leader willingly steps up to meet a need. Otherwise, a good servant leader probably won't even wait for any suggestions, but is constantly looking out for others and simply knocks out the tasks without any delegation necessary.

        I have seen the benefits of this non-managerial approach taken by a few boys over the years. At Centennial Jambo we had one boy that didn't show up for the registration, but sent his money in. He didn't show up for the shakedown and I was concerned he might be a problem. But once he got there if ANYONE needed help he was there. A single boy needed to go to the latrine and his buddy wasn't around, but this boy would always go with anyone needing a buddy. This went on with every task at camp, and this boy not only helped his patrol but I saw him helping out other patrols as needed. Near the end of the week the boy twisted his ankle and the members of the troop all pitched in to make sure he got to where he needed to go, they carried him. We had a long hike back to the bus when it came time to leave, they packed him completely up and carried him and his gear to the bus. And NO ADULT or TROOP/PATROL leader even suggested they give him a hand. Lead by example! I was totally amazed with this kid and even more amazed by the influence (leadership) he was able to provide and the response he got from such leadership. By the way, he was one of the youngest boys in the contingent.

        What I think Kudu is always emphasizing (he can correct me if I'm wrong) is that top down management can leave a wake of hard feelings and promote resistance from those who get delegated upon. But if the boys see the "higher ups" as people they can look to to help them, they will follow naturally and even eagerly. Those boys that have figured out how this works are what he is calling natural leaders and I think for the most part we do not train/promote this kind of leadership, but rely more on the managerial style which tends to be less effective.

        Stosh

    • #21
      I enjoy these converstations because it gets into the meat of the program. The editor on my side is making it impossible. Sorry. Barry

      Comment


      • qwazse
        qwazse commented
        Editing a comment
        Try typing your post in a text editor, copying it, then pasting it into your post.

    • #22
      When the troop was much larger and did age based patrols we used Troop Guide to work with the newest patrol and we had Instructors that typically were focused on teaching just a specific skill or a few skills.

      With the troop a bit smaller and mixed aged patrols we use JASM. The JASM basically does the same job as the guides and instructors together. Our JASM must be an Eagle or the age of 16 and they have to be approved by SM. We typically only have 1 but did have 2 until they aged out this past fall. Our JASM is the one that packs up a pack and brings it in to teach packing, sets up the axe yard and teaches the totin', basically teaches anything passed what a PL can't do. Sometimes the boys are doing something and 1 PL can teach it but another can't so the PL teaches his patrol and the JASM will teach the other patrol.

      To me (as in my own opinion)... Guides teach how the troop functions, helps a new scout patrol have a patrol meeting and plan, helps them learn how to set up their camp area... Instructor teaches the skill(s) they are proficient with... and a JASM can do both as well as teach all of the skills needed through first class.

      I guess it depends on what you believe his role will be now and especially in the future. I do think it would be weird to go from JASM to a different position where he'd be under someone else.

      Comment


      • #23
        The last few post have got off track to the reality of the BSA scout program. Kudu is not a fan of the BSA, so he uses these discussions to bash the BSA and lace it with a little wisdom of experience. You have to really dig for it, but he does have some good stuff hidden in there. OHTERS here use him to piggy back their there own style of BSA bashing. One of Kudu's points that I do agree, but is out of place in this discussion is don't let the patrol method set the program back. What he was saying is Don't risk an election of 10 years olds when the obvious leader is the 16 year old. But since there was no discussion of an election, Kudu's example was out of context and only confused the discussion. And it is true the Stosh and Kudu have admitted many times that they don't care for what stosh calls Top Down Management system of the BSA program. Problem stosh is that it's not a hierarchy of management OR Leadership, it is hierarchy of responsibility. Very different and works very well for a "Boy Run" type program because it places the appropriate amount of responsibility with a scouts experience and maturity. And it gives the SM (good guy) a lot of freedom to add or reduce responsibility to insure the scout is challenged without being overwhelmed. I think it is important for everyone to understand that Kudu prefers the Badon Powell patrol system where the SM hand picks the leaders. That is not the BSA program, so it becomes and apples and oranges in these discussions. What I keep reminding both stosh and Kudu is they can be as idealistic as they want, but normal down to earth adults still have to run the program and if the program isn't intuitive and simplistic for the average person, it goes off in the gutter. There has to be a system that the average adult can run without loosing control. I happen to think the BSA has given us exaclty that. I have the experience to back that up. Getting back to "this" discussion and the simple answer of what I was trying to explain to stosh is that the title for this 16 scout doesn't matter, the program is so narrowly defined at this point that the SM's and scout's roles and responsibilities will be the same. There isn't enough maturity in the program to give them room and flexibility to go very many directions. I suggested JASM because it is a position in the this BSA program that the SM can appoint. But it doesn't matter if the troop calls him Chief of the Watch, he will still do the same job. I do appreciate stoshes and Kudus idealistic concepts to the boy growth of scouting because they similar to mine, but as much as they may hate it, THIS IS THE BSA and they are NOT going to change it. It is far better to work within the system we all have to use to accomplish the same performance. I know it is possible because I see great performing troops all the time. Sorry for the long post. Barry

        Comment


        • Eagledad
          Eagledad commented
          Editing a comment
          >>The rub comes when responsibility is delegated down a level and no authority goes with it. This is the #1 problem with the management style.

        • Eagledad
          Eagledad commented
          Editing a comment
          You missed the whole point stosh, but the editor isn't working now. Another time maybe.

        • Twocubdad
          Twocubdad commented
          Editing a comment
          Great discussion -- finally!

          Barry wrote: "... it gives the SM (good guy) a lot of freedom to add or reduce responsibility to insure the scout is challenged without being overwhelmed."

          Exactly. When I first started as SM a good friend who had been a SM for decades told me his greatest challenge was to evaluate the ability of the youth leadership and to moderate his level of engagement depending on what the youth leaders required. It is the SM's job to give the youth leaders the freedom and responsibility to lead the program, but not to destroy it. We have a responsibility to ALL the Scouts to deliver a good program to them. Controlled failure may be a great learning tool for the senior youth leadership, but not at the cost of no program for the Scouts under them. We don't cancel campouts due to the failures of leadership. The failure is that the adults had to step in and run things, not that the campout was cancelled. To me, that is the core of the method of Adult Association.

          Not to get off in the weeds with anecdotes, Stosh, but a carefully-crafted program can keep the older Scouts engaged in both HA and the overall troop program, including summer camp. First, there are plenty of opportunities for high adventure outings, The key to getting to also remain active in the regular troop program is giving the older Scouts A LOT of freedom and responsibility at summer camp. The deal I have with the older guys is is they run the troop and I leave them alone. Don't want to take merit badge classes? Fine. Want to sleep through breakfast? Okay. Stay up all night with your buddies? Fine with me as long and you don't disturb anyone else. But in return, you run the troop -- take the younger guys to the shower, make sure they find their MB classes, deal with home sickness, provide fun things to do. On their own, my older guys come up with a duty roster taking turns with shower detail or hauling the troop to early bird swim. Frankly, I take a fair bit of heat from parents who think their kids are "wasting" camp and camp staff and other troop leaders who want to know why my guys are at the shower house at 11:00 (because they were working past "lights out" and this is their first opportunity to shower.)

          Consequently, I have Scouts who go to summer camp seven and eight years. That compares to a national average of, what, two years? Guys with conflicting summer jobs ride up to camp on their days off just to spend time with the troop. Most years I have 18- and 19-year-old ASM camp with us. If we treat them like they young me they are they will come.

          But the point is this isn't a black or white/up or down issue. Leadership should be a shared proposition between the senior scouts and younger boys, between the adults and the Scouts. Dumping responsibility on Scouts they are ill-equipped to handle is just as great a recipe for disaster as is giving them the responsibilities without the authority.

      • #24
        What is more important in the army - the Colonels and Generals or the warrant officers and Sergeants? The answer is both are needed and the army would not function properly without both.

        Now, the real question is - does this boy of 16 and you want him to serve the Scoutmaster (that is what a JASM does) or serve in a leadership position with the boys? Don't have a JASM lead the boys and don't have a troop guide, SPL, Intructor, etc. carry out Scoutmaster assignments.

        Comment


        • Sentinel947
          Sentinel947 commented
          Editing a comment
          Fair is fair. Acco. The Boy Scouts isn't the Army.

          The way a Squad is run in the Army isn't at all similar to a Boy Scout Patrol. A Platoon isn't similiar to a Troop.

        • Kudu
          Kudu commented
          Editing a comment
          Yeah, Acco, get with the program! Scouting was popular 100 years ago because boys wanted to play army reconnaissance patrol. Scouting for the 21st century is designed for adults who want to play office. Apothecus needs a Junior Achievement branch manager, not a Patrol Leader!

        • Sentinel947
          Sentinel947 commented
          Editing a comment
          If Boys want to play Army, then maybe JROTC is for them. They can do Drill and Ceremony just like the real Army! Then they can learn how to fill out request forms just like the real Army! Then they can learn to fill out Operation Order Plans just like the real Army! Then when they get something wrong, they can get smoked by their Patrol Leader, just like the real Army!

          What fun!

          Baden Powells early Scouting skills were very similiar to the ones he used in reconnaissance in the British Army. But the way it operates is not the same. Scouting is a unique thing. So I don't like the military analogies. Besides some similarities in certain skills, a hierarchy structure, the fact it uses ranks the military is a very different breed of animal. The military isn't for everybody. I want to try to include as many boys as possible in Scouting.

          But go ahead Kudu, let your Scouts play recon patrol. You gotta play the Lieutenant. So start pushing that paperwork. Cause that's what Lieutenants do.

      • #25
        ~
        Originally posted by Eagledad View Post
        Kudu is not a fan of the BSA, so he uses these discussions to bash the BSA ...
        "Bash the BSA" statements like that are why "servant leaders" are not to be trusted.

        Originally posted by Eagledad View Post
        I think it is important for everyone to understand that Kudu prefers the Badon Powell patrol system where the SM hand picks the leaders...I suggested JASM because it is a position in the this BSA program that the SM can appoint.
        Obviously you are the one who wants to hand pick the leader. I said to throw them all together without job titles six months before the next election, and the Natural Leader will emerge.

        Comment


        • #26
          Originally posted by Sentinel947 View Post
          If Boys want to play Army, then maybe JROTC is for them. They can do Drill and Ceremony just like the real Army! Then they can learn how to fill out request forms just like the real Army! Then they can learn to fill out Operation Order Plans just like the real Army! Then when they get something wrong, they can get smoked by their Patrol Leader, just like the real Army!
          What fun!
          Baden Powells early Scouting skills were very similiar to the ones he used in reconnaissance in the British Army. But the way it operates is not the same. Scouting is a unique thing. So I don't like the military analogies. Besides some similarities in certain skills, a hierarchy structure, the fact it uses ranks the military is a very different breed of animal. The military isn't for everybody. I want to try to include as many boys as possible in Scouting.
          But go ahead Kudu, let your Scouts play recon patrol. You gotta play the Lieutenant. So start pushing that paperwork. Cause that's what Lieutenants do.
          Precisely the same misunderstanding of military scouting forced B-P to write a boys' version of his book Aids to Scouting for NCOs & Men.

          B-P was a vocal opponent of military drill for army reconnaissance patrols. He invented games like Capture the Flag and Spider & Fly to teach his patrol system and scouting skills to army men, not boys.

          http://inquiry.net/outdoor/games/b-p...ng/a2s_167.htm

          Boys who like to play army snatched up the book and made it a best-seller. But when youth workers took notice and invited the famous military hero to review their Boys Brigade, YMCA, etc. versions of his best-seller, it was always military drill.

          So he wrote Scouting for Boys, a manual on how boys can build their own working Patrols. The whole point of BSA training is to destroy working Patrols by instilling in adults an instinctive drive to pull the most competent leaders out of the Patrols and tuck them away in Troop-level administrative and "training" roles like SPL, ASPL, JASM, and TG.
          Last edited by Kudu; 02-16-2014, 12:11 PM.

          Comment


          • #27
            This is why I don't have "elections". I just let the boys come up with their leadership on their own. A natural leader will stay in that position for however long he wants to do it. Telling him he has to step down after 6 months is not on my radar. However, if the boys select a leader that doesn't do what they expect of him, they simply select another and another and another until they get the one what works for them.

            My only "rule" which in fact is only a suggestion for the boys is that the patrol have 6-8 members. They work out whose in what patrol and whose going to lead it. That way if something goes awry with the system, they have no one to blame but themselves. Of course the means to correct the problem is within their scope to change, too. It has worked for me for many years and tend to not have any serious problems along the way. I never hear: "Our PL isn't doing his job!", or "Our PL doesn't show up for meetings/activities!". Long before it gets to that point, the boys have already made the changes.

            Boys wanting to "try out" leadership, can offer to take a role to see how it works. I have had one or two boys take PL for just summer camp. I have had a boy research different summer camps and then serve as SPL for the week, only to step down after the week is over. I have had TF boys take on a service project and act as SPL organizing PL's and their patrols for just one day. I have had PL's that knew they were going to miss an activity and have had their APL's take over on an activity well before the event and then carry through to the end. A lot of PL's often are busy with school activities and hand over the responsibilities of the patrol to their APL for a whole season of sports, only to pick up again when they get back.

            For those that insist on mixed patrols, this can be a good thing. NSP has the okay to ask any boy in the troop to be their PL. If there are only 6 webelos crossing over, they might pick a couple of the older boys to step in and be their leadership. No "rule" says they can't do that.

            If all the older boys want to patrol up together. Fine, no problem. I never have to set up a Venture Patrol, the boys have that option anytime they want it. If the Venture Patrol has 8 boys and the NSP asks two of them to help out with their startup, fine. At the end of an arbitrary length of time the NSP are up and running, the older boys can ask to return back to the Venture Patrol.

            Letting the boys make those decisions really takes a lot of the having to create rules on the part of the adults. Just stay out of it and let the boys figure it out.

            What I have noticed is that the older boys like to hang together, but if asked, they will readily help out the new guys get up and running. As a matter of fact, a lot of the older boys like getting asked by the new guys. They know it's not forever, but they take on the task until the job is done and the new guys can then pick from their own members if they wish, or ask another older boy, whatever they wish.

            By keeping the guide-line 6-8 boys, two boys from any patrol can step out of the patrol temporarily to help out elsewhere and not lose their bond with their buddies. Those that do step out are those looking for leadership opportunities that might not be forthcoming because they have a strong PL/APL team running their patrol. These boys tend to be the temporary SPL's that line up service projects, or may organize summer camp or some high adventure outing. If they don't do it for the troop, they still might step up and show some leadership initiative within their patrol. A boy working on an Eagle project might be one of these "extra" leaders that is nothing more than a member of a patrol that finds it necessary to step out of the patrol member role into a leadership role to accomplish his project.

            Stosh

            Comment


            • #28


              I was a JASM at the end of my Scout career. My primary job was to be a resource for the SPL for troop program planning and for PL's and CL's for patrol and crew program planning. As we had six patrols and two crews, it kept me busy. It was an unusual weekend when we didn't have at least two patrol or crew activities going on.

              (The de facto/default "troop method," may take a big hit in the new Scoutmaster Specific syllabus due out this year.)

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              • #29
                (The de facto/default "troop method," may take a big hit in the new Scoutmaster Specific syllabus due out this year.)

                Interesting!

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