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Our Chaplain's aid recently introduced a prayer at a Troop meeting whereas all the participants hold hands in a circle with their arms crossed in front of them. Some of the boys felt uncomfortable with this concept. They felt it was "Girl Scout-ish". Last night, at the PLC, the SPL bought the prayer up for discussion. The LC voted to ban this prayer for future Troop functions. Frankly, I'm a little shocked. Our Scoutmaster was not available for the meeting. An ASM was standing in his place. I was a little dumbfounded at the time and chose not to say anything. Is it just me? Or is there something wrong with this vote? Here are some of my concerns:


1) Barring anything offensive and/or inappropriate, I feel the Chaplain's aid should be free to introduce prayers as he sees fit.


2) This appears to be micro managing. What if the LC decides to tell the Dues Scribe how he should do his job? Suppose they tell the Troop Historian what pictures he should take? Can they edict the format of the Troop newsletter? Shouldn't these types of decisions be made by the boys given the leadership position?


I feel a more appropriate action would be for the SPL to communicate the concern to the Chaplin's Aid, but leave the decision (to continue or stop such a prayer) up to him. If the boy continues to perform his job in an unpopular manner, then the Troop can seek a different boy leader for that position.


The bigger issueWhat decisions, if any, are outside of the LC's purview?


Thoughts anyone


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Our Troop always ends each meeting by "circling up" We all (scouts, parents and visitors) stand in a circle and hold hands with out arms crossed (right over left.) When in the circle it is as if the Scout sign is up and only the Scoutmaster is permitted to speak. At that point I deliver my Scoutmaster's minute for the week. When I am done I recognise all visitors and any Scout who has earned an award that week. The Chaplain's aide then performs a short prayer and we close out the meeting by repeating the Scout benediction together. "And now, may the great Scoutmaster of all good Scouts, be with us and guide us until we meet again. Good night Scouts!" (Announcements are delivered before we circle up.)


I have never seen a scout meeting where a troop did not circle up at closing, but that might be a regional thing. As far as I am aware (once again I could be wrong) the circle is a tradition that dates back to the first Scout camp at Gilwell. I have never had any complaints from any of the boys. When I was a scout we would refuse to close the meeting if the circle was not closed.


I would be shocked if such a vote came up at my own PLC because to me, the circle is a fundamental part of a scout meeting. Not circling up is like baseball without a bat to me!


On to the main questions at hand.


1) I would agree to this statement completely.


2) In this example I would agree that this is the worst sort of micro-managing but the PLC should have a certain degree to oversight of how certain tasks are carried out. To cite your examples: the dues collection issue I would leave between the Troop Treasurer and the Scribe. The photos I leave to the historian the format of the newsletter I also leave to him, the CONTENT should reflect the needs of the troop so the PLC comes back into the picture. There are areas that the PLC should be able to question and discuss but yes, the position holder should be free to do his job.


I strongly agree that a competent leader who is merely unpopular should be able to continue doing his job until election time and the new SPL appoints a new person to fill that position. (if you check out the Junior Leader Handbook, secondary positions are appointed by the SPL)


I would advise against highly detailed (confining) job descriptions for youth positions, they will get enough of that garbage when they get a paying job.

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In response to the Girl-scoutishness. Girl Scouts and Boy scouts share a great deal of tradition, ceremony, skits and songs. It would be hard to say where each one started, but I would hope that the boys who are putting down another Scouting group by using "girl" in a demeaning way were called to task.


My Brownie troop uses the circle ceremony and I have seen it suggested for Cub Scout closings. The Boy scout troop I am associated with does not currently have a Chaplain's aide, our loss, I would hope; however, that if we had one that any inoffensive non-denominational prayer would be received favorably.


The Girl Scouts have some inappropriate songs and skits that put down Boys. The Boy Scouts have some that put down Girls too, you know which ones. I hope we can all work to eliminate this type of prejudice and have Scouting groups support each other. Isn't that part of our Scout Law.

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I am not sure who the "LC" is, however to ban prayer at a scout meeting would be to say that the 12th point of the scout law is of no importance.


Because the PACK I am part of is not affiliated with a church, we have never had a prayer during a pack meeting except when a meal was served.


However, every TROOP meeting the prayer, opening and closing is up to the boys. They are encouraged to include prayer, as well as keep their church an active part of their lives.


Every troop committee meeting is started and ended with prayer.


As to the "circle up", check out your "Group Meeting Sparklers" and you will find many differant circle ceremonies. My den as well as troop try several differant ones at various times during the month.


Paul Johnson

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I am not familiar enough with all the roles within Boy Scouts but would like to second Mike Long's comments. My son's troop also closes the evening in a circle, holding hands (right over left), and say the Scout's benediction. No one has complained about this but since it's always been done, it is not thought of as "girl scoutish". Haven't your boys seen college and professional football players grasping hands in the huddle or on the sidelines? To me, it is not un-masculine, simply asexual.


By the way, my daughter's Girl Scout Troop uses the same circle, but with a different benediction. Again, the circle shows a bonding within the troop.

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