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  • Change of command

    I'm about to start work with a troop that has been adult led for a few years (becuase of one pushy mom) and I was wondering if anyone else has done this and what did you do to help the process of Adult to youth led?

  • #2
    Heh, heh! For openers, "change of command" may not be the best way to characterize this transition...


    • #3
      To quote the 9th Doctor, "RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!"

      Get a copy of the 3rd Edition SMHB, both volumes, and implement the Jr leader training in it, i.e taking your PLC on weekends separate from the troop and model the behavior.


      • #4
        Actually SP, "change of command" sounds great, as long as he's talking about command of the adults

        TheGong, my advice is, talk to the parents. A lot. And the CC. A lot. If the CC isn't on-board with the switch to youth led (or if the CC doesn't have the same idea as you on what "youth led" means), you'll have problems. If the majority of the parents (especially the vocal ones) don't support it, you'll also have problems. The scouts may or may not struggle with it, but if they do struggle, they'll complain to mom and dad. If mom and dad are on-board with the youth-led change, they'll tell Junior to deal with it. If they're not, they'll complain to you, the CC, and the committee. If the youth don't struggle, but mom and dad aren't on board, mom and dad will complain anyway...

        If the CC is on your side, you'll have a valuable partner in dealing with the inevitable discontent (there will be some families that prefer an adult-led troop. They want a Guided Tour of adulthood for their boys, rather than an actual introduction to it). If the CC isn't on your side, there will probably be another change of command pretty soon.


        • #5
          I was able to work with the youth in a transition by scheduling some backpacking trips. The adult led types weren't into high altitude and long hikes, but they were happy to have a month off while I took the Scouts on a backpacking run. While on the trail I started a conversational PLC discussion, and everytime they asked what was next - I told them to decide.

          It was a good way to get started.


          • #6
            Horizon's suggestion is probably the best. However, we have a lot of backpacking adults who are really nervous about that 300' stuff, so don't expect simply holding a backcountry activity will solve the problem in your case. It takes a lot of patience to let kids hike everyone a mile out of their way before suggesting they might want to check their navigation!

            It would be great if you can have an ASM who can sit down with the adults and say "This is how Mr. Gong would like to see our boys operate. .." Then lay out the ups and downs of the patrol method. Meanwhile the SM is getting the patrols started on their first task independent of mom. E.g., planning the weekend's grocery list.


            • #7
              Put all of the parents into a separate room during the meeting, save for the SM and ASMs. Discuss committee stuff to distract them from the fact they're not able to helicopter...

              Repeat weekly.

              The boys will figure it out once they actually see that they're being given almost free rein.


              • #8
                Right now, we're kind of finishing the second year of such a transition. It hasn't been easy, and we didn't have many adults trying to undermine the process. The hardest part, for us, has been the older Scouts in the troop. If they weren't expected to actually lead in the past, it is like pulling teeth to get them to change.

                I haven't really thought this through in terms of an overall plan, but here are some random thoughts:

                - just make the changes all at once...our prior SM labored, for years, saying "we're working on that" (in terms of re-instituting patrol method), and that was part of the problem. If you're stuck halfway, you're not really there. So just do it.

                - the PLC has to have autonomy -- it can't be a case of "once you choose your calendar, the adult troop committee will look it over and approve it"...they must know that what they want to do is really going to happen

                - patrol leaders must be trained...the big change for us was training older Scouts, and then holding elections. We kept the "eligible list" for elections limited to those who had gone through training. That pissed off a few older Scouts, who needed PoRs for advancement, but I could see it coming a mile away that they would have been stuck in the old mode of expecting credit for their do-nothing PoRs.

                - the training had some themes to it, along the lines of challenges: we challenged them to form a PLC and take back control of the troop calendar; we challenged them to take back control of meeting and outing planning; to run their patrols according to National Honor Patrol criteria. It didn't all take at once, but we're a lot better off now than we were two years ago.

                - one adult can't do this on their own; it took us at least two, with a common vision (of having an actual youth-led program); a few committee members got pissed off along the way, when their sons took a hit, so to speak. That wasn't pretty.

                - we found a patrol-oriented summer camp (in New Hampshire -- about 20 minutes further away than the camp we'd been attending) and that has done great things in terms of reinforcing patrol method in the troop; our guys now love the place.

                - resist all urges to have "ad-hoc patrols" on outings. I know you've got 101 reasons why it has to be that way, but it damages patrol identity, and functionality.

                I'm sure there's lots more, but details are escaping me at the moment.



                • #9
                  Wow great post Guy. I agree with every point. Everyone has great points, but Guy puts the major points all in one basket.

                  My first point was going to be the same as Guys, the older scouts. Through my experiences and working with other units, older scouts are major struggle because like most adults, they don't like change. They just dont like to be retrained. Them will bend a little, but you won't break them. Use them where you can, but don't let them get in the way of your goal. The changes will have to come from the younger scouts.

                  Also Guys comment on a Patrol oriented summer camp really is important. Its more of a philisophical point, but it goes along with Kudu's 300 ft. rule. You need to isolate the patrols as much as you can so they have room to function as a team. The Patrol Identity Discussion going on in another thread is a really good read that supports Guy's point here.

                  I might suggest you get the SPL Handbooks and PL Handbooks for both the adults and youth leaders. Use them together to build the basic structure of your new boy run program. I encourage all scout leaders at district and council adult training to use these handbooks instead of the SM Handbook because they are easy to read and get right to the point of the program structure. Its a lot easy to shape and control the adults when you have them refer to the same book the scouts are using.

                  Im very impressed Guy, you have a natural feel for this scouting stuff. I hope you eventually get to work with adults in other units one day to help them in their struggles.



                  • #10
                    Thank you guys so much, most of what you said I had planned on doing but there were some new ideas that I will deffinetly do. The troop is still a little small so the patrols might take some time but I really like Guy's comment the best,
                    "just make the changes all at once...our prior SM labored, for years, saying "we're working on that" (in terms of re-instituting patrol method), and that was part of the problem. If you're stuck halfway, you're not really there. So just do it."
                    Everything will be quick.


                    • #11
                      Thanks, Barry and TheGong -- when faced with a troop that was (in my opinion) dying a slow death, I struggled with the question of what I should do. General advice, on this forum, and on AskAndy, was closer to "you can't fix it, best to just walk away", but I decided to do it the hard way.

                      Most importantly, I didn't do it alone. But I also didn't go straight to the committee and say "we need to fix this now!". I kept quiet for the first year, going to committee meetings. Then I started making suggestions --

                      Here's a quick aside: our guys weren't cooking for themselves on outings. They were, but at adult direction ("do this, do that" kind of stuff). The SM was shopping at Costo. Why? Because it was easier to do in that way. So my first suggestion was along the lines of "you know what would be cool? Give each patrol a mystery box of ingredients, and see what they make?" It worked. My future plan was to give them a mystery envelope (with cash) and drive them to a grocery -- we haven't gotten to that yet, we haven't needed to.

                      But the big change happened with Woodbadge. The other adult leaders didn't know what Woodbadge was all about, but I told them I have to do some small projects, and asked for their assistance (my ticket!) -- my ticket was oriented around reorganizing the troop to be youth led. Training them, etc. The other adult leaders didn't get in my way.

                      About the same time, a WDL transferred to our troop. An Eagle. He could tell what I was trying to do, and supported it. We planned together, and worked on changes together. As of today, he is our SM and I am the CC.

                      We still have a ways to go...I'd specifically like to institute a couple of Kudu's/Rick's ideas: one is to get away from car camping (completely, I hope, someday) and do that by offering a "backcountry" trip that is maybe a half mile away from parking. Then work from there.

                      The other is to get our patrols separated physically (300ft!). That worked when I was a Scout, and there's no reason why it shouldn't work now. But we haven't been digging really deep to find outing spots to support that concept yet.

                      This offer is open to anyone -- if you want to struggle through rebuilding a troop like I did, please feel free to drop me a PM. I'll send you my regular email address.

                      By the way, much of my activity could have been directly attributed to posts in this forum. Several posters, such as Stosh and Buffalo Skipper were a ton of help. Bill Nelson has a bunch of great patrol method resources on his troop's website. Kudu/Rick, of course.



                      • #12
                        By the way -- I agree, 100%, with everyone else that has posted. Communication was a key. I got to the point that I have been addressing prospective parents and new parents and talking with them about the troop philosophy.

                        The last time I did this (April, after crossovers), I was the most direct I've ever been. At one point, I said something along the lines of "for parents, it is sometimes frustrating to see a troop that looks a little disorganized; but every time that you contact an adult leader with a question about your son, or an outing, or whatever, you're depriving a young leader in our troop a chance to work on his communication and leadership skills." So I asked them to be patient and let the system work.

                        That went over so well, I'm planning on keeping it in my "newbies" talk. :-)



                        • #13
                          There have been a couple of good discussions on this forum lately and this has been more useful than SM training, woodbadge, and roundtable. Thanks everyone.

                          One thing that has helped me a lot is clarifying what I should and shouldn't do. I don't buy anyone's food or tell them what to cook, but I have been waking scouts up in the morning and generally urging them to follow their own schedule. So it's not their problem, it's mine, and that has to change. The 300' rule will help a lot. But that's still too vague. I just want to set clear expectations. Have your patrol at flags in the morning. Everything else is their problem, including who's in their patrol. In fact my definition of boy led is who solves the problems.

                          One expectation I will set is attitude. If a PL wants to remove someone from his patrol because he's tried for 3 months to get him to help out and he won't and the PL tried talking to his parents and everyone is frustrated then I guess it's a reasonable request. Not only that but I can now be the good guy and maybe that scout will listen to me. On the other hand if they want to remove a scout because they need room for someone else that's more fun, then I do have a problem with that. But I don't think that will be much of an issue after the PLs start picking their own patrols.


                          • #14

                            GKlose writes:

                            "We still have a ways to go...I'd specifically like to institute a couple of Kudu's ideas: one is to get away from car camping (completely, I hope, someday) and do that by offering a "backcountry" trip that is maybe a half mile away from parking. The other is to get our patrols separated physically (300ft!). That worked when I was a Scout, and there's no reason why it shouldn't work now. But we haven't been digging really deep to find outing spots to support that concept yet."

                            No need to dig deep for 300 foot Patrol venues if you combine your two modest goals: Ask (in person) the camp ranger at any Boy Scout camp if he has "primitive camping" spots ("about a half-mile" from the parking lot) to which your Troop can "backpack."

                            Likewise you can camp anywhere in a National Forest, so long as you backpack at least 300 feet from the nearest road, parking lot, trailhead, or improved (pay) campsite.

                            Baden-Powell's "300 Foot" Patrol System:


                            Lightweight Patrol Camping:


                            Yours at 300 feet,



                            • #15
                              On most farms, the best campsites are some distance away from where the owner will let you park.