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Is SPL Merely a Popularity /Funniest Person Contest

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  • #16
    One of the former SPL's would give a short talk to the troop before elections of things the boys should consider when casting their vote. This included things such as which candidate has helped out on campouts in the past 6 months? Who pitches in to help on campouts, service projects, organizes games, etc. etc.

    The older boys would ask specific questions to the candidates, asking for examples of what they did in the past 6 months.


    • #17
      My old troop (note word old), had a horrible way of electing people for leadership positions. Only a few offices had real competition, and oftentimes SPLs and other leaders were given positions because they needed to complete rank requirements. One memorable SPL hated Scouting, went to summer camp only once, and didn't tell people he was a Scout. His parents recently pushed him through Eagle, go figure.

      The troop is/was almost wholly composed of kids forced to go to meetings by their parents and patrols were barely used at all. I knew my time there was up when I was denied the chance to run for OA rep. because I was an Eagle Scout and needed to let others do the job. Only 3 in the troop had ever gone to a lodge event since our Ordeals...

      So... it is critical that you stress the importance of positions like SPL, and encourage capable, enthusiastic kids to run for the office.


      • #18
        This sounds like a California general election somehow....


        • #19

          "I know that adults can't influence the vote..."

          That assumption is the source of your problem.

          If "Leadership Development" does to BSA Lifeguard what it did to SPL (makes it a Position of "Responsibility" selected by Troop elections) will you hesitate to "influence the vote" when your non-swimmers fling paper plates into the crowd to get elected?

          "why do you need an SPL? Try going without one for a while. Put the PLs at the head of things, where they should be. See how it works."

          Barely a half-hour had passed when Eagledad swooped in to discourage you from using Baden-Powell's "whole new" solution: Simply eliminate the SPL position if it does not work. In Baden-Powell's Patrol System, mature Patrol Leaders can run a Troop of up to thirty-two (32) Scouts without an SPL.

          This is not your fault, Astrospartian.

          Missing from Eagledad's treasured "program that provides plenty of training and manuals that can guide how to direct the troop," is any mention of the very first thing that Boy Scout volunteers should be taught:

          Baden-Powell's Minimum Standard for his "Patrol System:" (Monthly Patrol Hikes without "Adult Association," and Patrols camped 300 feet apart); and

          William "Green Bar Bill" Hillcourt's Minimum Standard for a "Real" Patrol: (Monthly Patrol Hikes without "Adult Association," with the goal of extended Patrol Hikes called "Patrol Overnights").

          This definition of leadership in terms of Physical Distance from "Adult Association" is what both Baden-Powell and Hillcourt meant by giving Patrol Leaders "Real Responsibility" over their Patrols: Trust and controlled risk on the order of what we expect from BSA Lifeguards ("Trust but Verify").

          Many Wood Badge courses still camp their Patrols Baden-Powell's 300 feet apart, and include a Patrol Hike free from "Adult Association" (the Staffers).

          My guess is that if you examine the Troops of Wood Badge's true believers in this thread (those who ascribe to "21st century leadership skills," all of the credit for their success), you will find that the maturity of their Scouts is grounded in peak experiences that involve some aspect of Physical Distance from "Adult Association."

          Yours at 300 feet,



          • #20
            As an adult in the Boy Scout program, part of the process is letting the young men discover what works and doesn't work. If they make obvious (to us) stupid choices, and they get stupid results, then they start making smarter choices going forward. The Scoutmaster and other leaders do their best to teach and advise, because event that "popular" Scout can learn to lead, and isn't that one of the points of the program.


            • #21
              Has anyone tried implementing a Republic? Each Patrol gets one vote for SPL, so the SPL has to get the support of a majority of Patrols? Or perhaps the PL and the APL each get a vote?

              Just a random thought on the subject.


              • #22
                In a practical sense the republic idea would make sense, since the SPL would/should be working directly with the PL's to run the PLC. Why have an SPL that the PL's don't like or trust. Unfortunately the SPL is often viewed as "running the troop" which negates the need for PL's and patrol method. However if the SPL is supporting the work of the PL's in their patrols, I can see the PL's selecting the best person to do that.

                I have often viewed the SPL (if necessary) as PL of the virtual patrol of PL's (PLC).



                • #23

                  Horizon writes:

                  "Has anyone tried implementing a Republic? Each Patrol gets one vote for SPL..."

                  Yes, Hillcourt's "Real" Patrol Method was republican during the BSA's height of popularity (late 1920s to 1972).

                  Troop popularity contests were introduced in 1972 when we replaced Hillcourt's PATROL Leader Training with Bla Bnthy's TROOP Leader Training.

                  Yours at 300 feet,



                  • #24
                    Shortridge, I've made this comment before...

                    I think a majority of troops have turned the SPL into a "supervisor of patrols" in support of a methodology by which the boys operate as a troop organized into patrols for administrative purposes, rather than stand-alone patrols organized into a troop for administrative purposes.

                    Those 2-3 patrol troops can only do without an SPL if they operating under the latter method. If the troop operates as a troop of boys who just happen to wear different patrol patches, then, quite frankly, an SPL is an absolutel necessity. Why? In this case, PLs are largely irrelevant.

                    Even in the case of those 2-3 patrol troops operating under the "true" patrol method, there is a still a great case for a strong SPL: to run interference for the Patrols. E.g., help keep those Webelos III DLs from meddling too much. Nothing wrong with a lad directing a wandering adult back to the coffepot.

                    Anyhow...the relative usefulness of the SPL is directly related to how that position is used in relation to how the troop operates. Just because troops misuse SPLs doesn't make the position useless.