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  • Trek Leader Selection Issue

    Okay, so maybe it's my issue and not theirs. Looking for some opinions and/or advice.

    I am the advisor for a Philmont trek that is heading out in June. The boys were asked to select a trek leader last week. We set a goal for each scout to hike 100 miles since last August and each scout signed a contract to participate and be active. The opportunities have been there. One boy in the trek has hiked 139 miles. Four of the eight nominated a boy who has the lowest participation and lowest miles hiked in the group- 18 miles total and only three outings in the last year and the lowest meeting attendance (we typically have 2-3 activities in a month plus three troop meetings). At the last troop meeting I noticed that this scout did not participate wit the rest of the troop in the activities but instead spent the time talking with the former senior patrol leader who showed up late. I was going to speak with him about participation after the formal troop meeting when we had our trek meeting, but he ducked out early and did not attend the trek meeting.

    Not every scout will achieve the 100 miles- but all except this one scout will be over 85 miles.

    Dad is also one of the trek adults and has similar attendance. Both dad and son are in great shape physically (boy is on the high school track team and dad usually goes for a run when he drops the boy off at the troop meetings- good example) but we set this mileage goal with a dual purpose- to get in shape and to spend time as a trek crew.

    I asked one of the other scouts who voted for this boy why he chose as he did (overall, not singling out any one person) and he shrugged and said they wanted those positons and he didn't.

    Personally I am not feeling a great level of comfort with just going with the top vote getter. I'm looking at options. Here is what I have considered.

    1. Ignore my feelings, its their choice and work with the boy leader as the advisor.
    2. Pull the boy and his father aside, tell him that he was selected as the trek leader but has not shown a great deal of leadership over the past year. The expectations and responsibilities will be much higher at Philmont so start preparing now.
    3. Re-vote (no one scout had a majority). Urge the scouts to select someone who has they feel they could follow, consider the outings they have had, and pick someone who has been active.
    4. Re-vote and limit the pool of candidates to those who have achieved the 100 miles- or have the boys select the minimum miles and participation and let that determine the pool of candidates.

    Here's another point that's grinding on me. When we announced the trek last year and opened it up to signups we had a scout who is one of our oldest and wanted to go since this will be his last chance before he turns 18. He is older than any of our current scouts on the trek and is an Eagle Scout. He admitted up front that he was very involved in wrestling, lacrosse, and water polo, so he would not be able to attend the hikes and campouts but would get in shape on his own. We told him that this was about team building and he should look at his list of activities and decide what he wants to do. He did and decided to not to go to Philmont since he was going to be on the varsity team in his selected sports and wanted have good attendance on the weekend games. Even with his varsity team commitments his attendance at troop meetings is nearly perfect.

    The boy in question for trek leader joined the cross country and track team after this decision and has been unable to attend outings because of sports conflicts. "Runner dad" is also aware of the Eagle scout's decision to drop because of too many commitments. I don't think he sees the similarity in their situations.

    Comments? Other suggestions?

  • #2
    Bottom line......The trek leader is not your decision. The boys have spoken, have confidence in there decision. Get over it.

    Far as the team building nonsense goes......I think it is over blown for philmont......You share experiences, meals and carrying gear.....The boys will figure it out very quickly once you arrive.

    Why the 100 mile hike commitment since last august???? if it is conditioning it is a complete waste of time.....You need 3-5 miles a day for any results. 139 miles in 10 months is not any sort of an accomplishment.......that is 14 miles a month or 3.5 miles per week......For a young man that is less than an hour a week of walking, my scout runs 3-5 most every evening.

    Runner guy probably surpassed that total in a month or two.

    Park your personal feelings.........

    Remember this is the boys trip not yours.

    Suggestion......go and have fun.......Let the boys run the trek and don't worry about it......They will figure it out or will miss some activities.....


    • #3
      This may not help since you have already had the vote. For my crews we had the Scouts decide up front what made a good crew leader, scribe, chaplain. The troop scribe took the notes and the boys agreed that leadership (by example), participation, planning, experience, training, etc., were all good things. These were put into role descriptions (on the board) by the scribe and then boys were nominated and seconded. Secret ballot and leaders were selected. We also had the boys do the same for advisors in terms of developing a list of what good traits for advisors were...mostly for our own edification.

      Going back on a vote would be hard. You might get out there and find he's a great leader. Or, you may find the opposite. Happened on a trek years ago with me and the boys replaced him on the trail...realized he was not leading and not pulling his weight (literally).

      Being active or a runner does not mean they can handle a 50+ mile hike. I have seen fit football players unable to carry 45 pounds after 25 miles. It is mental and physical together.

      Not sure you can do anything other than advise the crew to have back-up leaders in case of injury or sickness. Then you are covered.


      • #4
        Youth sometimes see things differently than we do. In situations like these, I just try to suck in my breath and roll with it.

        Give the trek leader your undivided attention from here on out. Touch base with a phone call every week. Have him tell you what he knows about each boy completing any tasks assigned to them. Lead through him. So, for example, if there's an announcement to go out, ask him to do it. You'll follow-up on any omission. Ask him if there's anything specific he would like you to do for each meeting.

        Then, rewards. In my crew, "officer's privilege" includes the choice from my stash of gormet chocolate bars and the right to divide them how the officer sees fit. (The only other way to receive a bar is via our "epic fail" system. E.g., on ski trips, we vote on best face-plant.)

        This boy might step up to the occasion. Or, he might after three weeks decide the responsibility is too much. In which case, he can ask the boys if someone else will take the lead.

        Regarding the senior scout. At some point, you should apologize to him for being so strict with the participation requirements, that maybe in hindsight you could have given him a pass.


        • #5
          Maybe I am missing something here......

          Other than having the gear and physicals what do they need to accomplish before going to Philmont??????/


          • #6
            Have you taken a crew to Philmont Base?



            • #7
              No I haven't taken a crew to philmont.......

              Let me see....adults arrange the transportation and schedule any side tours.
              From what I have witnessed the adults pick the trek.
              Adults manage the physicals and money....
              Philmont provides a gear list and instruction when you arrive.
              Other than maybe arranging a couple of pretrek crew outings I just don't see what the youth have to do??????


              • #8
                Yah, hmmm...

                My question would be why is this lad and his dad still part of da trek crew? When they didn't meet da obligations that they signed a "contract" for, they should have been removed from the crew. Otherwise what example are yeh setting for the other boys? No wonder they think electin' a trek leader doesn't matter, eh? Yeh couldn't even hold to your agreement on fundamental requirements for participation.

                So I'd say yeh sit with the lad and explain that you're sorry, he hasn't met his obligations that he agreed to, and refund his money for the trek. Expect a blow-out. Make sure yeh have da support of your CC and COR in advance. It will do a world of good for the other boys and for the program in the medium and long run, however.

                If yeh aren't willin' to do that, then at very least trek leadership positions should be completely off the table. Da issue should be probation and what he has to do with the crew between now and the trek in order to be allowed to participate. Go with the second lad if he's been a good egg.


                • #9
                  >>No I haven't taken a crew to philmont.......<<

                  Well then it’s informative for inexperienced adults to learn that Philmont tells each crew to do “Thorns and Roses” discussions during the trek because they experienced so many complaints by scouts who were being pushed around by adults who thought they knew everything. The Thorns and Roses discussions are supposed to be a safe way for the scouts to tell the adults to back off. Philmont also started asking crews to assign chaplins for the same reason. Some adults just don’t play well when they get tired and sometimes the Philmont staff escorts an adult off the mountain to wait for their crew to finish the trek, which is a big reason why Philmont request at least three adults per crew. I know of one situation where an adult was reported to DHS.

                  Building, training and guiding a crew is not the same as scoutmastering a troop of patrols. The OPs question is very common, especially among new adult leaders. I know you are the smartest person here Base, but you will have to forgive those of us idiots who have the t-shirt if we don’t give your advice a lot of weight. A back country trek can be very stressful for a crew that is not physically and mentally prepared for several hours of intense physical exercise in extreme weather conditions. Add to that those adults who join the crew for their own personal adventure and find they have little patience for the slower pace and decisions of the boys. Our best crew was eight seasoned 16 year old boys who took two dads that had never backpacked before. The adults didn’t know enough to tell the scouts what to do and the scouts took a personal responsibility to make sure the dads survived. I still hear great stories from that trek.

                  By the way, I was thinking the same as Beav on this. I know it’s not that simple because I’ve been there a few times, but the whole Philmont experience is still about scouts learning the value of moral decision making. The crew leader should set the example of meeting the requirments for the trek.



                  • #10
                    hmmm, so my troops three-five day local treks don't count for anything.....the older guys 13-14 year olds go 4 times a year.....With the 12 year olds going on an intro of 5 miles in and out in the fall of their crossover year.

                    So while I have not been to philmont as an adult I have attended as a youth and have some pretty extensive backpacking experience.

                    I am guessing the a crew from my troop would be just fine on this trek.


                    • #11
                      I think we are staying from CM Mike's question.

                      I'd keep the kid and his dad but put them on notice. Philmonth training and planning is a boy-led activitiy. If the boy leader is not leading then he needs redirection. If still not leading then he needs replacement. You cannot leader unless by example. If your example is not to show up then they picked the wrong leader. This, for my money, is when the adviser steps in and points out that crew unity is not good. IMHO, if you don't have it before you leave you won't magically find it on the trail. Best addressed now.


                      • #12
                        I'd go with it being your problem. The Crew leader should be decided by the crew. (Unless you are going to overrule somehow based on health and safety issues). If the crew finds they have made a mistake, the crew can either change it or live with it. The boys are allowed to make mistakes like this, and hopefully learn from them. I would expect the crew knows his level of involvement is not up to your expectations, but if you overrule their decision, then you will be making a clear statement of who is really in charge of the trek. (Depending upon the voting rules, you might ask for a vote of confidence by the entire crew since half of them voted for someone else).

                        I sure can't speak to the specifics of your contract, but unless removal was clearly specified I would pass on that one. In addition to the bad feelings someone, or the troop is going to be out real $ unless you have replacements lined up.

                        I also would not have rebuffed the older scout. This may have been a way for him to reconnect to his friends in scouting in ways that the normal troop activities do not. Even without specific conditioning training, most of the youth can handle the trek.

                        As an aside, while I know that many adults choose the trek for their crew, as well as too many of the other duties, many also do not.

                        Remember that as much as we as crew advisors would like to give the boys a perfect trek they will always remember, it isn't going to happen, and they will always remember it anyway.

                        Enjoy your trek.


                        • #13
                          Not sure why you would consider telling the older scout the expectations for participants would be considered rebuffing him. It's being honest, and letting him make a decision as to what is important to him. As much as we would like, we cannot have it all.
                          Some units choose to start the crew bonding with the crew training. There are advantages to it. Other units need not make the same choices, I agree that no trek will be perfect, but you can help the crew put the odds in the favor of having a great trek by preparing together, That benefit is HUGE.