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  • SPL and ASPL conflicts

    We elect ASPL for 6 months, who then becomes SPL for 6 months. This solved one problem (scout thrust into SPL role with no preparation), but created another that we hadn't considered. The SPL is a rule stickler, and a bit bossy. The ASPL has more respect from the Troop, and has a more laid back style. He is equally able to get the Scouts to do whatever task needs done, but in a very different way. His biggest maturity issue is that he is pretty openly disrespectful of the SPL, at least when adults are not present.

    If they were being honest both scouts would tell you that the other is the one person they would least like to work with. I think they are both capable leaders, but I'm not sure how to get them to work together. Further complicating matters is that the ASPL is my son. He and the SPL have annoyed each other since they were cubs together. The SPL's parents and I have had some minor conflicts in the past. In my opinion they treat their kid like he is infailable, which leads to some of his issues. Apparently at the camporee last weekend, his favorite phrase was "well I'm in charge". The source for this is not my son.

    I'm a new SM, any advice from those of you more experienced? There have already been a couple of things I have done differently based on the advice I got here. Thanks.

  • #2
    Good luck. Being the scoutmaster, and having a son in leadership in the troop, get ready for the rotten tomatoes and the calls of unfairness. It just happens.

    These two scouts have known each other for a long time. As you've implied, there is a lack of mutual respect between them.
    Have either been to NYLT? Some here would disagree as to its value, but they introduce the concept of Servant Leadership in the course.

    If you could speak to these two scouts, Scoutmaster to Scout leader, you could challenge them to push their feelings about each other aside, and work for the good of the troop. This would include being polite and respectful to the SPL. They have to lead by example. If you son can't or won't do that, he may not be ready to be SPL. You reap what you sow.

    The leadership style of the SPL is another matter alltogether, separate and apart from these two not working together.

    He might need some one on one mentoring lessons from you or a ASM.


    • #3
      If my son were the ASPL, I'd have a discussion about being a Courteous and Cheerful scout, then ask him how he would/will feel when he is SPL, someone being disrespectful to him. Explain how his behavior can be a divisive influence on the troop, and where would the troop/patrols be if taking different sides.

      I'd also discuss how different people have different management styles and most will do what is comfortable to them (whether it works or not is a different story).

      A Courteous, Kind and Cheerful talk could go for the SPL as well. Maybe define the difference between being a leader and being "in charge". Two different things in my book.


      • #4
        koolaidman - for the win.

        It's hard when you are the SM and your son is a Scout, much more so when he's in leadership and you get to coach him about how he could do better. Mostly because unless you've built your own father/son relationship really well he may not hear it being about an issue but as a criticism of him.

        Unless you are going to turn the issue over to an ASM whenever an issue arises that includes your son - I know of others who did this, I chose not to. You need to be able to have the same conversations with your son that you would have with any other Scout.

        koolaidman has hit it on the head in my humble opinion, although I might add to his comments to the ASPL that he is not the one in charge, nor is he the co-leader, he is the immediate support (and alternate, if absent) to the leader and needs to back him up in any policy that isn't immoral, illegal, or dangerous(even when absent) however that doesn't mean that if he has reservations about something that he couldn't still talk to you or an ASM(adult association) but that should be done in a way that doesn't undermine the Current SPL (like doing it in front of the Scouts).


        • #5
          First question, and I am not trying to be a smart butt, but have you read the Scoutmasters Handbook from cover to cover? If troop is not following what it has states about troop elections and appointments, then it is taking away from the boys and their program. If the current SPL had been allowed to appoint his ASPL then I doubt you would be in the situation that you are int.

          As far as the current situation, if a boy is not living up to the job description, and that can include following the Scout Law and Oath in his duties, and being respectful of the troops leadership, youth and adults, then you need to have a heart to heart with him. Give it a few week, and if things do not improve then it is time for him to be replaced.


          • #6
            Sure, it's true that their method of electing the ASPL(or actually of NOT having the SPL selecting the ASPL) isn't in the book and that they would possibly not be in the situation they are in if they had done it that way, there is no guarantee that they still wouldn't. So, I elected to answer him IN the situation they are in.

            It is true however that by not operating inside the way the system says to, that in a way you allowed the situation to come into being, are you going to allow it to continue to run that way? It can be argued, and has been, and will be, that you need to change that system. That isn't the point I'm driving towards, so I'll let others argue it.

            My issue that I'm going to harp on is to reiterate that YOU need to figure out how you can relate to your son as someone who is in your tutelage in his leadership position. Or whether you are going to hand dealing with him over to an ASM for his term in office. I don't know you, I don't know your son - can't tell you how to do it. I do know that to the degree that I was able, I treated my son as though he were any other Scout in the Troop when dealing with him as Scoutmaster, and "on occasion" was still able to be "Dad" rather than Scoutmaster Dad on some portions of Outings, and just Dad at home. He was mature enough and we had a relationship built so that we were able to both play our roles.


            • #7
              I'm thinking the comment about appropriate elections holds true for this position.

              SPL is elected, he selects ASPL who can work with him.

              It's a nice idea to move ASPL up to SPL, but only if the boys elect him such.

              Then he can pick his own ASPL.

              Of course, this is one my my big pet peeves. Do you need an SPL/ASPL team because you have 3 or more patrols or is this just a fill up a POR process to advance the boys?

              I find that most troops who have problems with SPL relationships is because that person doesn't need to be there in the first place.

              1 patrol - run by an SPL??? Why?
              2 patrols - one SPL the other "just a PL" - There's a recipe for disaster.
              3 patrols - one SPL and three PL's? just maybe it might work with the right combo of temperaments.
              4 patrols - now one might have a fairly functioning PLC.

              Most troops do not have 4 patrols of 6-8 boys. If they do, they just might be able to function as a patrol-method troop.



              • #8
                Thanks for comments. I don't disagree with election comments, this is our 2nd cycle with this system. Problem we had 3 elections ago was no one really wanted SPL, and the scouts ended up electing a scout who had no leadership experience and not much interest. It was a rough 6 months for the troop. We had heard of other Troops using this method and last cycle worked well for us. Now not so much.

                We have 5 patrols, so we should be able to have a functioning PLC. We haven't really had one, at least not one that worked well. That's another question for another day. I will probably have several over the next few months as I take control of the Troop.


                • #9
                  They are youth. They are rarely fully functional! This is the first substantial leadership role for most of these boys. I've been in organizations with seasoned adults, and they never quite succeeded until we all agreed that there's some growing to do in all of us.

                  Getting boys to accept that is a lot tougher.

                  So to each boy say something like "I'll be patient with you if you'll be patient with him!" Actually I have know idea what the right word choice will be for your boys. I've seen different SM's do it differently. The fact that they even were making the effort to listen and encourage seemed to make a difference.

                  Needless to say, positive reinforcement as these boys complete tasks (including showing up for meetings, showing due courtesy, etc ...) is essential.


                  • #10
                    Life lessons included, no extra charge.

                    Both boys will likely have jobs where they work with or for people they don't particularly respect or care for. This is a good time to start figuring it out.

                    Sit the two of them down together, tell them, "figure it out" and close the door behind you as you leave. As SM, the best think you can do is make sure they see the results of their choices. Give them opportunities to work together and be successful, but don't bail them out if their lack of cooperation creates problems.

                    Of course your son has the short end of the stick. But he has the choice to take the high road and do everything he can to support the SPL or be unsupportive or even spending his time sawing on the SPLs limb. That's a good topic for a Scoutmaster's conference, but an even better chat between a kid and his dad while working in the yard, watching a ballgame or walking in the woods.


                    • #11
                      'Problem we had 3 elections ago was no one really wanted SPL"

                      I had that happen ONCE!
                      Solution, I appointed my ASM as SPL!
                      The new SPL is a Army Lt. Col., and a drill sergeant's worst nightmare (but a heck of a good guy and all the boys respect and love him).
                      His first meeting was 30 minutes of PT followed by a uniform inspection, then followed by a second chance at SPL elections.
                      No problem finding volunteers that time, and no problem since


                      • #12
                        The outgoing SM and I discussed this situation and agreed that it would be better for him to handle it. Not really from the point of view of my son, more to avoid the other Scout's parents telling the Scout to ignore me because I am favoring my son. I overheard about 1/2 of the conversation, and it seemed like it was pretty balanced towards teaching both boys to get along. Show respect for leader, don't just make arbitrary decisions and expect everyone to follow, etc. Actually used some of the things you guys said above.

                        Later in the evening I told my boy that by disrespecting the SPL he is making my job of moving us towards being more boy led more difficult. THAT seemed to sink in. So hopefully he will just QUIETLY think the SPL is an idiot for the next 6 months, rather than making sure everyone knows his feelings.


                        • #13
                          No one wanted to be SPL?

                          Easy solution: don't have one. Let the PL's fend for themselves with no leadership. I'm thinking that if the position is really needed, someone will step up and fill the void. Now you have a working SPL.

                          If the boys elect an SPL that doesn't want to be there?

                          Easy solution: pull his POR. No one should be forced to do a POR. Advancement in BSA is optional.

                          I have found it is better to have no SPL than have a boy who doesn't want the job being forced to do it. Rule #1 of scouting is having fun. Doesn't sound like anyone is going to have fun in a situation like this.



                          • #14
                            Well...since you knew these two did not get along all the way back from should have anticipated that problem and not put them (or allowed them to be put) in to such close proximity in leadership.

                            Now that they are there, each gets a crappy life lesson.

                            Most people, when faced with bosses they don't like or respect leave as soon as possible.

                            I suspect this is not an option for you son though....


                            • #15
                              Stosh - I agree with everything you said. But at the time I didn't know enough (or have the standing) to do it. That is how either problem would be handled if it came up in the Troop now.

                              Was - I disagree on 2 levels. First, As SM it's my job to give guidance but not to tell which Scouts to run or not run. FWIW, my boy would have been my 2nd choice to win. However, I think once he realizes he has to be ASPL first before he is SPL he will be fine.

                              Second, maybe you have had an easier time than me, but I've spent quite a bit of time working for bosses that I had trouble respecting. Somebody once told me, "If I only judged my job by how much I liked my boss, I'd still be a lifeguard at the public pool. (his summer job at age 15)" I knew these 2 Scouts would have some difficulties, although they appear to be more than I realized. However, learning how to deal with that is part of life. Even though the next few weeks may be ugly, I think both boys will grow from this experience, and the Troop will be better off having 2 more seasoned leaders.