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Decision to accept Scoutmaster position

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Hello all,


I'm new to this forum and have been reading through the discussions the past few weeks. This is my first post.


I've been approached by my son's troop to be their next Scoutmaster and am looking for any information that might help me decide if I can handle the job or not. I'm hesitant to accept the position, maybe for reasons I don't quite understand. I'm eager to be trained but I fear I don't possess the necessary personality to be an effective, inspiring leader. I have about 2 more weeks to decide.


I would like to hear from those who have had to make this same decision, how you came to it, what your outcome was, and why. What have been the hardest situations to deal with and your solutions to them?


Background: I earned my Eagle rank in the late 70's, I then dropped out of Scouting until my boys began Cub Scouting. I spent a year as a Den Leader in 1995 with my oldest. I was then out of Scouting again until my youngest got into Cub Scouts in 2000. I spent 2 years with him as a Webelo then one year as an ASM with his troop, where I am currently. I've been studying the BSA methods of boy-led-troop and the patrol system and understand the advantages of them. I've also read an old (1983) Scoutmaster's handbook.


The current SM has been serving for the past 2 years and has agreed to serve till December. This is an established troop with 30 Scouts, everything is running smoothly and I'm familiar with all boys and most of their parents. The Organizational Rep is the backbone of this troop and has roughly 50 years of Scouting experience. I need to decide soon and am leaning toward accepting, although I don't feel very confident in my abilities as a leader.


My strengths are: planning, organizing, patient, reliable, camping skills, finding new camping locations, I get along well with others, hard worker. I do great working in the background.


My weaknesses are: people skills, persuasiveness, leadership. I'm quiet and don't talk much.


I welcome any questions, comments, criticisms. Say it straight out. I won't be offended. Thanks



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Hi Ken,

Welcome to the forum. Although not a scoutmaster, I was an advisor feeling much the way you do.


You'e already stated your strengths and weaknesses. Talk to the current Scoutmaster about your concerns and find out which Assistant Scoutmasters can assist in your weak areas. Remember, many hands make light work.


Ask the person who asked you why they want you and what is the committees expectations. You should also have your expectations for the committee. Working together, you'll do fine.


I hope this made sense. 2 insomniacs writing at 12:30am may not make for the best prose.


Again, welcome.



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Welcome to the forum. You will find such great support here from lots of dedicated scouters. I know they have helped me.


I can tell you that I took the same job as you with little warning. The scoutmaster resigned. The saving grace for me was a good support system with the youth leaders and ASMs. It sounds like you have the advantage of being able to look over the retiring SM's shoulder and look at some things that might help you out alot. You seem to have the necessary desire to support the boys in the three aims of scouting and willingness to listen, learn and not try to do it all. There is so much help for you. You don't have to be loud or on stage to let the boys lead. First, adjust your attitude to success.Talk to your son, the Committee Chair and the SPL. Training is imperative for leaders. If you are already trained, then go to district roundtable. Finally, enjoy.


BTW, even though it was much more than 1 hour a week, I wouldn't have missed a minute of it for the world.

Good luck,

Night Fox


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Hi Ken

Your posting gave me food for thought. Maybe because I tend to be very impulsive and rush into things.

It got me thinking; what are the qualities of a good Scoutmaster?

I have read all the books - Well a lot of them!! I have taken a lot of BSA training and have been a trainer for a good number of years.

While there is a lot of good stuff in all of it and it is possible to learn the process of leadership. There is also take home techniques you can pick up from the training's, that will help you be a better leader. Here are some of the things that I think are very important.

Do I like kids?

My wife has served the BSA for many years as a committee person. She is good at what she does, but admits if left with a bunch of kids, she would go nuts.

More then just like kids, I think it is important to care. A good Scoutmaster leads from the inside out. Scouts have a way of knowing who really cares. This knowledge that they have does at times make them more forgiving when we the adults mess up.

Can I communicate well?

A good Scoutmaster must be able to get the point across to different groups of people. Good Scoutmasters are good teachers. They can teach at the level that is needed.

I also think that a good Scoutmaster is flexible and willing to accept change. Like it or not some things today are not as they were when we were Scouts. While we do not have to lower the standard we may have to go about reaching it in a different way. Our Scouts learn in a different way, they see things in a different light. We could be old stick in the muds and try to pretend that it is not happening. That would be dumb.

A good sense of humor is important along with a sense of fun. Most Scouts didn't join a troop to be anything noble they joined to have fun and share adventures with other Lads.

As to you not talking much - Most of the better Scoutmasters don't have to. They do work in the background leaving the people who ought to be running the troop to do their job.

Being a Scoutmaster is not rocket science. If you can read the Scout Oath and Law and say to yourself "Yes this is my code and I can provide a good example." You are most of the way there.


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God, this is a tough one and one that I've had to struggle with as well.


How is the troop currently run? Are the Scouts running it or are the adults making all the decision? Two or three Scoutmasters back we had an SM who thought that he was letting the boys plan their program but in reality, it was the adults. What he'd do is present the PLC with activities that he thought they should do and they'd vote "Aye." Are the adults acting like Den Leaders or they simply staying out of the way and letting the Scouts handle the events?


If the troop is running smoothly as a Scout run troop, then your short comings probably wouldn't be a great handicap.


However, if the troop is adult run and you want to change the culture, you need to be a communicator, leader, persuader, etc..


In any event, go to the Scoutmaster training. It is a wonderful way to learn how the program is supposed to run.


As for old manuals, keep the old one but buy a new one as well. I have a the new Scoutmaster's Handbook as well as one from 1961. I find the old one to be much better written and a much easier read than the new.



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A hearty congratulations on being asked. (Here's a little more for I think you'll say yes.)


Among your strengths you listed patience. With that single strength you can go far.


There very well may be a fellow or gal or 2 or 3 out there who can step up when asked and say unequivocally..."Yes, I'm ready to be SM", without any prior reservations or self-doubts. Most of us (probably 99.99%) were asked, thought about it for 2 minutes, and then jumped in with both feet not knowing just what we were getting ourselves into. And probably only 2% of those regreted the decision. The rest struggled a little but gradually found their footing, went out and got more training, and just fell into loving the job. And many of us probably never took the time to look at the support group that existed to work with the SM...all the ASM's, the Committee, and others. I didn't and ended up with myself, one ASM, 20 eager boys, no training, no direction, only 2 months experience in the troop, no knowledge of troop resources..., but a lot of enthusiasm. And I'll share a secret here...the enthusiasm of the SM in doing his job and working with the kids can be infectious, especially when trying to build the Corps of committed adults leaders and volunteers. If you have the enthusiasm and interest in doing the job, go for it. If the support group necessary to make your job a little easier exists, so you can deal specifically with the Scouts and not the infrastructure and concerns of strategic planning for the year, then go for it. If that group is slim pickin's, but you think you can drag others kicking and screaming into it to love it like you do, then go for it.


I'm not going to tell you that it's only one hour a week. It can be one heck of a lot more work each week, which is why the support group is paramount. But I will tell you that as long as you find it fun, you will not regret it.


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I know of no cookie cutter shape that is guaranted to make a good Scoutmaster, or of anyone who stepped into the job and didn't need to learn as they go. I know many good scoutmasters all of whom are different except for one thing, their desire to do a good job.


You sound like you have many fine qualities for becoming a scoutmaster. If you have the desire to make a real difference in young peoples lives, take the job. Enjoy, and just like the boys, grow as you go.


Good luck,

Bob White



Put the old book on a shelf as a keepsake or donate it to a museum and learn today's scouting program for today's scouts.

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First, welcome to the forum. Second, I guess every post needs a wet blanket so I'll fill that role.


In my opinion the skills of camping, knot tying, backpacking, lashing, etc. are secondary to being a good SM. Planning and patience are a must! The leadership skills can be learned. Understanding the Scouting program and "people skills" are the most important traits that you will need. Your experience as a youth and adult training helps you understand the Scouting program. In your self assessment you stated that your people skills, leadership and persuasiveness are weaknesses. The fact that you are quiet and don't talk much may be true but I would not label that as a weakness unless it is extreme. One does not need to be an extrovert to be a good SM. However, one does need to be able to interface with a wide variety of people (youth and adults). If you feel that you can't overcome that, I'd suggest you do not assume the SM position at this time. However, if you can, definately go for it! The quiet, lead by example SMs are the best around in my book.



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1st off welcome! There is a lot of valuable information on this forum.


Wanna be a Scoutmaster, huh? What are you nuts! Just kidding! My advise, go get all the training you can get! Also, get to know the boys in your Troop. Maybe even get their opinions!


Ed Mori


Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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1st- Welcome, hope you enjoy it and can be of help to others on the board as many will be lots of help to you.


I'm gonna say it from a Scout's point of view. I think a good Scoutermaster has to push the patrol method. We didnt do so until this summer at camp. It works a lot better than not in my opinion. It sounds like your troop is about the size of mine. We have four patrols of each of about 8. Our new scout patrol has two troop guides.


Encourage advancement, but dont push it. If they dont want to advance, oh well. Our troop usually advances quickly.


BTW-- We have had 6 Eagles so far this year and may have as many as 3 or 4 more still.:)

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Anything that you need to know - can be learned.


The real question is -


Do you have the energy and the heart to do the job?


If not, don't even try.


If you do, be prepared for a lot of work and challenges - but you should do fine.



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You'll do fine as long as your heart is into it. The strengths and weaknesses you listed match mine exactly and my troop is doing fine. Being a SM gives me a chance to strengthen personal characteristics I consider weak. As an adult I find that I grow along with the boys.

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Hi River2K


I agree with FScouter that scoutmastering will improve your weaker skills and enhance your strong ones.


Here are a few things to ask. What is the one thing you want every boy to gain from your leadership?


What are your goals?


What do you want to change? Everyone is different and has something they want to add or take away to make the program better. If not, then maybe your not motivated enough to be my son's role model.


Relize that 50% of your job is working with and developing adults. That will be a challeng on your quiet side and your patience. Don't take this lightly, adults are just as hard headed as boys.


On the good side though, a quiet SM is better because he has to work closely with the SPL and allow him to work the troop. Scouts tend to gain the traits of the SM and a quiet mannerism forces scouts to learn personal skills for difficult situations instead of yelling. I hate yelling.


Rewards? Kind of hard to explain, but it's when a scout learns to control a PLC or Patrol meeting. When one stops to help and elderly person mow the lawn while collecting food for the food bank. The shy boy who barely says two words his first year becomes an SPL three years later and voted to be the an OA Lodge Chief. The scout who says his leadership skills helped him get in a college. How about the scout who saves a life and gives all the credit to the skills he learned in his troop.


There are nights you won't sleep from a frustrating meeting, but then there are the nights you can't sleep because of the successes. You have the opportunity to change lives, to make better fathers, husbands and civic leaders. The chance to give someone else that one piece of wisdom that will get them ahead in life. Scoutmastering will give you grey hair, but also a since satisfaction. You will be changed for life.


Good luck in what ever you choose, but the golden ring isn't offered everyday.


I love this scouting stuff.



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"BTW-- We have had 6 Eagles so far this year and may have as many as 3 or 4 more still."


Just curious, how large is your troop (your web site didn't say)? How many new Scouts do you get each year? What is your retention rate for new Scouts? Rough estimates are fine.


What is the driving force behind most of your Eagles? Is it the Scout, the Scoutmaster, or the parents pushing to make Eagle.


I'm curious because we have a fair sized troop (57 Scouts) with more than a few Life Scouts but we only have one or two Eagles each year.



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