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Everything posted by BlueTrails_Vet

  1. Read a thread from a decade ago. It was called "How To Fire a Scoutmaster". The responses were...interesting. Many questioned the loyalty of the poster, who came to the forum seeking advice. A quick tour of the forum (I'm new here, but not to Scouting) shows me that the situation that particular ASM faced isn't, unfortunately, uncommon. I've learned that there are bad situations. Sometimes things don't work out. Sometimes hard decisions have to be made. Nothing always runs as planned, or as hoped, despite good intentions. I'm among a group of volunteers, ASMs, with a troop. I joined two years ago when my son became a Scout. I spent the first year observing. I've tried to work within the system after that. I had positive conversations with the SM. I learned that there was no Troop Committee, and that was fine by the SM. I learned that the efforts and suggestions that I made, or that any of the other ASMs made, were unwelcome. It didn't matter that these suggestions were well-considered and well-presented and in line with Scouting BSA policy. Or that they addressed problems that the SM agreed should be addressed. I learned that ASMs working together were "conspiring" and that failing to plan was the plan. I learned that it's the boys' fault that they failed to lead when leadership opportunity was denied to them, and it was the boys' fault that so few went on the last-minute trip that they had no role in choosing or planning. After a particularly ugly incident over the summer, the COR reached out. He said he considered me to be the future of the troop's leadership. The SM agrees that his tenure should be winding down. He asked if I would accept the role. He said he would restart the committee and the troop would begin to move forward, towards the inevitable change. Then...nothing happened. The ensuing year was the predicted unplanned nightmare. Last minute plans made. Existing plans changed. Outings cancelled. Very little program. The committee wasn't formed until May. The one man band acting as SM/CC/Treasurer is unclear about or unwilling to discuss the troop's finances. Maybe he'll stay in charge until the next calendar year. Maybe longer. Nobody is happy. Not the COR or the CC. Not the more involved/aware parents. Certainly not the boys, whom we seem to have trouble retaining. I guess I'm writing to all those respondents from the first thread. Sometimes things are bad. Sometimes leaders make it about themselves and not about the boys. Sometimes it's my way or the highway instead of a team effort by committed volunteers, and the volunteers get fed up. Sometimes good people don't act because it's hard to do something that will undoubtedly hurt or insult somebody who has been around for a long time. And sometimes you have to seek a way to change things because it's the right thing to do, even if it's uncomfortable and hard. We should be supporting people who are dealing with these issues. It's not easy. Few of us are out to wreck anybody, and certainly not the people seeking help from their peers on an internet forum. Kids get 7 years to get the most out of what Scouting can offer them. That's all. Two years of abject dysfunction is a big chunk of that. If the program is about the kids, and it is, we can't allow chaos and dysfunction to reign for too long when normal redress fails.
  2. BlueTrails_Vet

    My Way Or The Highway

    A few notes on that response: I'm aware of how smoothly it *could* go, except that the COR is determined to be diplomatic and the SM is recalcitrant. I'm all for diplomacy, but when the majority of the ASMs who show up every week leave at the end of the year go, it'll decimate this troop and nobody really wants that to happen either. And it's only a big deal to me because each Scout gets seven years. Mine has four left. It's not about me at all except that as a parent I'm responsible for doing the right thing by him. I'm not wasting time. I'm doing what I'm in a position to do. I've been urging the folks who are in a position to do something to act with urgency to solve a problem they say they'll solve. But I can't *make* them take the necessary steps.
  3. BlueTrails_Vet

    My Way Or The Highway

    Yeah. Drank the beers. Tried to make incremental, even inconsequential changes. Tried to make the plans. Tried. Tried. Tried. And, not just me. But several ASMs, each working independently before we all realized that we'd been doing the same thing; working towards the same goals. It's an issue of control. The SM is an autocrat. He has been the SM, the CC, the committee itself. All of it. He doesn't want input. And despite the fact that he's aware of the many issues facing the troop, he doesn't want to change anything. Not really. And so that's the issue. How to move on from the situation smoothly. The choices are binary: realize the there can be no smooth transition within the troop and transition ugly, or move on to a new troop. Neither option is great.
  4. BlueTrails_Vet

    My Way Or The Highway

    Hey John-in-KC! Man...I have to get out there for BBQ some time. Anyway. After listening for a year I tried to be an agent of change.In the process, I met with friends who are SMs or ASMs now to ask about best practices. I met on several occasions with our SM to discuss ideas. I drew up plans to present. Organizational things. Advancement things. Program things. After apparently initial positive response, including a promise to meet and discuss these things with the core ASM group, nothing happened. None of it. The annual "planning" meeting was a bust. None of it was discussed. The SPL wasn't even invited. It was announced that our annual plan would be, basically, to wing it. After that, the aforementioned incident. Some really bad attitude demonstrated towards well-meaning ASMs who had put in a bunch of extra effort. The COR was witness. I was asked about being the future leader. I chose to ride the year out making as few waves as possible as a means of helping what I was told was an inevitable transition. Now I'm at the third part. I told the COR that I'd be leaving at the end of the school year. The CC will also be leaving (he also has a boy in the troop). At least two other ASMs will be leaving. It's a death spiral. We don't understand the COR's lack of urgency, except that I think resolving these issues feels less urgent if you don't have a child in the troop. Best case, the existing SM realizes that the troop is disintegrating and that it'd be best for the troop he loves to step aside. Nobody wants to force him out, though everybody sees that as an option. It's a very difficult situation. FYI: Along with other ASMs, I have done the ASM/SM training. I'm also Committee trained now. Those of us who have been seeking change are only asking that the troop do a better job adhering to the actual Scouting program.