Jump to content

If he becomes SM, we'll leave

Recommended Posts

I have posted before about some of the adult ego problems in our troop.


We have been looking for or without a scoutmaster since last Feb. our "acting" scoutmaster is trying, but he is a young man, former Eagle scout, single, no kids and too involved on other scout things (OA, district) and his work to really put in the necessary time. He usually can't make campouts, and we have a group of adults who want to direct, but no take the ultimate responsibility. He is not a strong enough personality to overcome them.


One dad showed interest in being SM, he was politely directed to join the comittee and get his feet wet first - as he had no experience in scouting - not a bad idea, but our committee's egomanics and infighting would scare away the toughest drill seargent. (by the way - this man has been on a few of our outings, and he has is awsome with the boys - his son is also one of our top scouts - who recently won an area "scout spirit" award)


Now another Dad has stepped forward - unfortunately the husband of one of our biggest committee (treasurer) egos. their son is an extrememly bright (gifted) kid who has been pushed through the program since tigers by his parents. Got his Arrow of light in 4th grade and joined the troop the summer prior to 5th. he is just 13 and a Star. They have blind spot when it comes to their kid and think he can do anything. alone. He CAN do alot - but he bullies the younger kids He choses what and when he wants to participate in and even managed to manipulate our SPL into following HIS program. He is a VERY smart, manipulative kid - learned at his parents knee. This kid wants to do high adventure - went to two sessions of camp this summer. He certainly has the energy for it. He knows alot of stuff, but he does not have the maturity. He alternately supports and belittles the other kids, depending on his need for them, I caught him playing with matches at camp, he lit the lantern twice with no adult in camp, He wanted to teach the new boys knife and axe at camp so without dissussing it with any adult, he took the troop axe out of the campsite without permission. when an ASM saw him and told him to put it back, that the boys were doing just fine learning in the Tot'n'chip program - he talked another boy into taking the axe AGAIN, for him and removing it from the troop site and was found "teaching" with a group of new scouts crowded around him - no safety circle. His parents know of this and turn a blind eye to it.


Now this boy's Dad want to be SM.

His dad spent half a week at camp with me. during the whole 3 days he never once left his son's side, except to sleep. He had absolutely no interest in any other boy, unless they were also with his son. He has gone on other campouts with the troop, and the same thing. Now, I put my son first, too - any parent does - but I also spent time at camp reviewing rank advancement and badges with each boy in my group, and made sure to check on all of them during the week to cheer them on, see their acheivements, and generally be available to them.


the troop used to be a high adventure troop many years ago. that family wants it to be so again.


I don't have a problem with that, EXCEPT that our boys are all 12 - 14 right now and are just starting to re-instate using patrol method, reg BSA guidleines, etc. SOME want high adventure, but are not yet conditioned or trained for it. And they can't START with 50 mile hikes! Some have no interest in it at all, or have medical reasons why they are not interested in 75 mile hikes and bike trips. they'd rather study bugs or geology, or pioneering.


there is nothing wrong with either kind of scouting experiences. I feel the troop should offer a variety of experiences for ALL the boys in the troop.


but if this family takes over the troop - their attitude is abundantly clear - they think scout outings should be about strenuous athletic/physical activity - always pushing your limits and if you can't keep up, you shouldn't go. They advocate pushing the boys who only want to do half the bike trail or hike to finish. We've already had a number of boys noticably absent from our last outings - a 40+ mile bike trip and a 50 mile hike.


I am also concerned about having a Husband/wife team as SM/stong comittee member. The CC and his wife are their best friends - the families socialize & vacation together, their sons are joined at the hip since kindergarten. Some decisions seem to be pre-decided at committee meeetings as it is, because they are discussed between these 2 families in private and a decision is reached, and then they are the majority at committee meetings. It is very clear that if this man becomes SM, the troop will be run to accomodate this one family and boy, and the the CC will follow them.


I've put so much into this troop, and have thought of being SM myself - but they are adamant about wanting a MALE SM. and to be honest, I am a single mom who works 50-60 hour workweeks and really do not have the time & energy necessary to be SM.


I have told the Acting SM that if this man is made SM that my son and I will be leaving the troop. So has another ASM. Very few know he has asked to be considered.


Am I wrong in wanting the troop to accomodate ALL the boys interests? or at least a range that would appeal to more than one area? I'd much rather have the brand-new, know-nothing-about-scouting-dad that asked, than one who is so one-sided.


We have come so far with the boys, you should have seen them camping and working IN PATROLS for the first time last weekend. I was SO PROUD of them!

But we can't seem to make much headway with the adults!


Link to post
Share on other sites

The biggest danger that I see here is that the proposed SM will only worry about his son's needs and give a hoot about any other boy. I've seen that happen and it isn't pretty. On the other hand, I've seen leaders who are primarily concerned with their son's advancement but manange to make sure that the opportunities are there for everyone else.


Many troops seem to develop an identity. Some are the hiking troops, some are the pioneering troops. That is up to the boys and the SM.

Link to post
Share on other sites

One point of clarification, was the 40+ bike ride and 50 mile hike ONE outing? or two?


Either way, a 50 mile hike is quite an undertaking, especially for 11-13 year old boys and the adults as well. And I am not sure I like the approach "we are a high adventure troop, like it or leave it" but it may work for some.


However, an alternative may be to have the gung-ho father and son start a Venture Patrol. They can plan all the high adventure they want, and have the scouts who are interested (and qualify) participate. Another possibility is the family get with your CO and start a Venture Crew focused on High Adventure. They could still be active in the troop, but as a Venture Crew they could draw on youth from the area, not just the troop and do all the extreme stuff they want. (subject to G2SS of course)


So, in the perfect world of OGE (oh if that were only possible) the Gung Ho family gets to do what they want in the context of the BSA program and Mr Nice Guy gets to be Scoutmaster.


Of course the boy needs to learn what the term obedience means as well, but that is material for another thread.

Link to post
Share on other sites

"Either way, a 50 mile hike is quite an undertaking, especially for 11-13 year old boys and the adults as well."


Only if they haven't been riding their bikes daily and doing something more than just riding around the neighborhood.


Me and my family ride about five miles a day, on most Sundays we do about 20 miles. At least once during the summer, we ride 40 or 50 miles. The secret is that you have to ride to be in shape to ride.


By the way, my kids are 11 and 8 and they think that our long trips are great. All their friends think that a mile ride to the 7-11 is a long trip.


For hiking I see the same problem. Kids don't walk anymore so a 5 mile hike is a long hike. Kids don't walk and parents don't have a brain so these out of shape kids show up wearing beat up sneakers, flip flops, no socks, etc.. The parents get upset when you say, "you can't hike in flip flops."


When I was a young fellow one of my friends got one of those walking meter things. He wore it everyday while we were travelling and playing. We usually went at least 10 miles in a day. I'd think that most kids would be lucky if they go a mile in a day today.

Link to post
Share on other sites

there is nothing wrong with either kind of scouting experiences. I feel the troop should offer a variety of experiences for ALL the boys in the troop.


Exactly right, but the real issue isn't high Adventure it is the very distinct possibility of the boy's troop becoming nothing more a vehicle to accomdate two families at the expense of everyone else.


The two trips you described should not have been open to all members of the unit, they should have been high adventure activities IN ADDITION to the normal troop program available to Scouts who qualify for the "extra" trips. If high adventure never happens you should not find your troop activity calendar suddenly empty.


Anyone who knows anything about outdoor leadership knows that the goal of high adventure is to set and achieve personal goals and not to force kids to endure pain and drudgery. I'm guessing that the boys didn't have much input into planning these trips and didn't train accordingly if there was such a drop off rate.


Kids can do anything as long as they plan and prepare appropriately.


But we are getting away from the real issue, and that issue is a troop that is considering putting an adult into a position of great responsability that doesn't appear to have the best interests of the entire troop in mind. That issue needs to be addressed in committee but I think OGE has the best plan. Venture patrol ASM.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you all for your input -


Our CO IS starting a venture crew - in it's infancy now - I don't think they've actually had any meetings, but they do have kids lined up. that's where our old SM is - he is the new Venture crew leader.


the general attitude seems to be that the venture crew will detract from the troop - where I think it can only ADD to the troop - especially for those boys that crave this high adventure. There's nothing that says they can't belong to and participate in BOTH Scouts and Venture. They may conflict at times and the boys may have to make choices - but that's life! problem is, these boys are mostly 13 - not old enough for venture.


As for a venture patrol - the troop isn't big enough - and we've scrambled the patrols alot in the last year. the genral concensus is to leave them be as is for now.


Dan - I agree that I shouldn't leave until I know there is a problem - but the troop HAS been a problem for over a year. This man is volunteering for the SM job primarily to give his son the program his son wants. he has no interest in the other boys, other than how those boys affect his kid. If the artsy / unathletic boys, or those with Asthma, ADD, ODD, Tourettes, and whatever else we have in our group drop out - he won't care because he doesn't know they exist in the first place!


The bike trip was one weekend, and the hike was another - we do one campout a month and these were the only campout events offered in those months. (We only have 18 - 20 boys) that's why I think that there should have been an option to bike the half - trip or the whole. two separate outings would be too hard - but ONE outing with different ability levals is very do-able.


As someone mentioned, "The secret is that you have to ride to be in shape to ride."

- I know of at least 3 boys on the trip who ride their bikes to school (a few blocks) and not much else. Personally, I haven't been on a bike since our last trip with the troop - in May! (that's why I volunteered to drive the bike trailer, instead of ride) The family who wants to lead is more like the ones who bike everyday and take 20-50 mile bike trips on their own - so to them the distance seems reasonable. only a handful of the boys do that kind of riding - tho I was amazed at how well the others did.


Actually the boys DID plan this one - the problem there is that we have just started implementing boy-lead program and real patrol work, and they don't know HOW to do alot of things. like planning. the patrol leaders are all first class scouts & above, and all very athletic - so the PLC "planned" this. Instead of getting input from their patrols, THEY individually decided what they personally wanted to do.


Their previous idea of boy lead program was that the boys would say - we want to hike, or we want to bike, and the adults would make it happen. and the adults have a hard time letting go, also. up until the day of the trip, I could not get any answer as to a specific location of the bike trail, the length, etc. many of the adults had been on this trail before, including the old SM. My research showed it to be approx a 14 mile trail- assuming I was finding the right section of trail by the vague info I was given. When we got there, the old SM was leading this particular trip, and he decided we would do round trip - 32 miles. Some of the boys, with some of the leaders continued further up the trail and back, making it 40+, some did the 32, one parent dropped out with his son at the 10 mile, and went back. I was supposed to meet the troop at the halfway point (16 m) for lunch - they didn't even know the name of the park - though supposedly the troop had done this same trip at least twice before!


My "job" in the troop is activities & transportation chair -I do the reservations, get a bus driver, drive the trailers, get driving maps, etc. so you can understand why this part of the planning is particularly important to me.


Still, I can see great improvment in the boys and their attitudes -

it's the adults that frustrate!



Link to post
Share on other sites

Keep on truckin' LauraT7. Work within the program to provide help, but keep to your guns and try to provide the programs for those in the troop that can't do all of the 'high adventure'. With the program the PLC planned that is part of the learning process of young leaders. If some of the scouts could not do the program, this should be pointed out to the PLC and see if they will, themselves, plan a dual level outing that will include all of the scouts. Good luck, stay the course.



Link to post
Share on other sites

Well you have two choices, stay or go. If you go you aren't guarenteed it will be any better anywhere else. Scouting is full of men and women that "are in charge of the world." If you're not doing it their way then its wrong. You might be doing better by staying and working to fix whatever is wrong in the unit. If you leave and no one else speaks out then what happens?


Scouting is a volunteer org. That little simple sentence says volumes. I have found it to mean we have a lot of leeway to make the units "fit" our vision of the scouting program. It also means support from "higher up" is not what you would find in a coproration, for instance. We, as leaders, have to make the units work for the boys.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...