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Decision to accept Scoutmaster position

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I was in pretty much the same spot as you just yesterday, but it looks like I dodged the bullet. Our (great) Scoutmaster was set to step down in October and I had just stepped up to take on the role, but after a refreshing trip to Philmont, he is going to stay on for 6 months or more. Whew! I didn't feel I was ready but I was willing to give it my best. Now, I get to have fun being an ASM another year.


We are working on a transition plan and have quite a while to make the roll-over. I'd recommend that every troop have a transition plan with someone pegged as the 'next' SM and groom that person to take over.


As has been described, its dependent on the personality of your troop whether your weaknesses will be hinderances or not. In our troop, we have some great boy leaders so persuasiveness would not be an issue - they take on all the persuading and leading in the troop. When you say 'people skills', that's pretty vague. Being able to sit down with a boy at an SM conference and discuss life is crucial, but doing stand-up comedy isn't necessary.


I bet you'd feel more capable if you went to your next District Roundtable and asked a handful of SMs there how they got started.


Best of Luck,



PS: This is my first post, too. :-)






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River2K, Night Fox, and mn_scout


Welcome to the campfire. You'll find many good and interesting topics and advice here.




Sounds like your walking into a well established unit.


You're asking how we made our decision to be Scoutmaster? Wow, Actually when I first volunteered at the district office. I was looking to serve on the district committee. I was told that a troop needed to be taken care of (My unit now) and IF I could just step in as a "Temporary" Scoutmaster until the District finds a new leader. Needless to say I've been here for 8 years. I'll admit that DE was sly. Two months later after my first camporee with the scouts, I decided to accept the position be the unit's Scoutmaster.


I'm not going to tell you it's going to be easy. IN Scouting nothing ever is. You just roll with the punches. Many times you're going to encounter things that is not in the manual. So what do you do?

There are so many personalities to deal with and not with the Boys but their parents as well. Your patience will play a big part in that.


How much are you willing to invest in Scouting? Is your son and family willing to share you with other boys and their families? Are you willing to take those late night/early morning calls regarding a misbehaved Scout from a single mother?


Your going to become a second parent and a father figure to many of these boys. Is that something you can deal with?


Ken, it's not going to be easy, there were many times when I wanted to walk away from Scouting but You know what. I'm glad I didn't. I wouldn't trade it for the world. You'll discover your niche as many of us, Scouters, have. Mine is seeing that look in a Scout's eyes when they succeed on their own. It's knowing that we can make a difference in someone's life for the better.


You'll have Fun, I know I do




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I would suggest if there is a Mrs. River2K sit down and talk with her, to make sure she will support you. Without your spouses' support it will just be that much harder.

I would also sit down with your son, to make sure he is also okay with it. Being the SM son is not always the easiest assignment.

I have put my name in the hat for my sons' troop, it took me 2 months of debate to decide to do this. A little different situation than yours.

My descision was based on talks with my wife and son and I finally said if not me than who? I looked around the troop at the other leaders and asked myself, is there anyone here that knows the program better or as good as I do and the answer was no.

This forum is a great resource that you can call on at any time for any questions or help that you need. Without this forum and the insight that I have received here, I probably would not have put my name in the hat.

I have found that dealing with the boys is easy, it the adults that will really test you!


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Welcome River2K! I believe that you will make a fine Scoutmaster.


"You must be willing to accept the simple fact that you have flaws and will need to work every day to become a better chieftain than you were yesterday." (Leadership Secrets of Attilla the Hun, Wess Roberts)


You have taken stock of yourself; know your strengths and your weaknesses. Weaknesses are only weaknesses to those who do not acknowledge them or know them. Your strengths will complement other's weaknesses and vice versa.


You say that you work well in the background. If your troop runs itself with a good program, that's where you'll want to be even though it might take awhile to get there. The most successful Scoutmasters that I have met work from that position - providing the vision, with the troop (boys) running the program to meet that vision.


Assemble a good team (sounds like it's already in place) and lead on!

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Thanks for the excellent advice from everyone and the questions that were asked, especially the ones I havent even thought of yet and the questions I should be asking myself. The amount of support here is a real confidence builder, to say the least. The wisdom here has helped clear the haze from my mind and gotten me to concentrate on the real issues of accepting this position.


Ill be talking to the current and previous SMs, Assistant SMs that have been there longer than myself, the committee chair, and a few questions for the organizational rep.


I will continue to read the good stuff here and update as I can. Thanks so much.




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Excellent questions and even better advice. Let me throw in my two cents. They're similar to other two cents previously tossed in, but with a twist.


When I was a newly minted Senior District Executive, I got sent to Wood Badge. It was the old course (1992) and was 10 days before I got married.


One of my ticket items I wrote was to become involved, as a volunteer in a troop so I would remember my roots. My future wife and I were taking classes to join a small presbyterian church.


During the time period we were joining the church, the troop treasurer from the church called me. They had only 3 boys and wanted to dissolve the troop and move the stuff to another organization. Being the DE and in the process of joining the church, I thought to myself, "we're not going to do that." and called a meeting of the three boys, the charter rep and the parents of the scouts.


We discussed the option of dissolution. I pointed across the street at the Pentecostal Temple which had just started a new troop. I said, you can go in with them, but I don't think you want to do that. They have to be back from the camp outs Saturday night and in church Sunday morning. It's part of the church outreach and it's fine for them. If that's what you want, we'll arrange it.


I then asked the boys what they wanted. They wanted to save their troop. The charter rep and I discussed it and we decided I would be the new committee chairman (and also DE) and we would find a Scoutmaster.


This was during the summer. We sent the 3 boys to summer camp with a provisional troop and the Cr and I tried to find a Scoutmaster using the Selecting troop leadership model. We did 13 "asks" and came up dry.


September rolled around. The original mom called me and said, "Who is going to run troop meetings?" I said that as Committee Chairman, I would do it.


To make a long story short, after 5 glorious months, I fired myself as committee chairman and the CR made me the new Scoutmaster. Three boys grew into 7 boys. A year later, we were lucky enough (with a lot of work) to graduate 18 Webelos into our troop. We had 25 boys -- the biggest troop in summer camp that year.


I do Scouting (and have since 1988) 8-15 hours a day most days of the week, but the most rewarding times were spent as Scoutmaster. Even with all the book-learning, being an Eagle Scout, growing up in Scouting, etc. Scoutmaster is still a matter of delegation, dealing with surprises, and adapting written materials to your troop's particular situation as well as asking for help and counsel from other sources.


It is the most rewarding position in Scouting.


Ken, in regards to stepping in front of people, I can tell you that I believe that a good scoutmaster is nearly invisible to the casual observer. He works closely with his Senior Patrol Leader to give the young man guidance in leading his troop.



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It's amazing to me, but you received about 15 responses, and every single one of them, even though they were generally different, were perfect! Had I asked the same question you did, I'd feel very comfortable with any decision I made after contemplating the advice you got here.


My thoughts mirrors Dan's. I have often based my decision to volunteer for anything on the philosophy "If not me, than who?". Sometimes it means I jump in almost recklessly. But I've never been unhappy with the choice. When I see that there is somewhere better than me to handle the job, I work my rear off to recruit that person, and then support him (or her).


I also agree with the sentiment that you should have the firm backing of your family. The biggest complaint my wife has about Scouting is how it dominates our lives, particularly the diner conversation. My wife even tried to make the point we had taken it too far one time by setting my two sons and I up to cook diner over a fire in the back yard once! It's not always easy on the spouse. And as was mentioned, being the son of the SM has its good and bad points. You'll need to work hard to be fair with your son. And I mean be fair both ways. It's very easy for a SM to worry about treating his son too favorably that he goes the other way and makes it tougher on him. I know as Advancement Chair, I have done this. My youngest son didn't make Star when he may have been ready because I was so concerned that he had been treated favorably because he was my son that I convinced him to work harder in his leadership position before he requested a Board of Review. In hindsight, this was not fair to him, and I recognize I can't do it to him again. My point is, yhou have to be careful about issues like this.


I am sure that whatever you decide, your Troop will benefit from the decision. If you take it (and my inclination from what your wrtten is that you would do well), I am sure the Troop will prosper. If you decide to decline, I'm betting that it will be because someone else can do the job better. Either way, your decision will be an honorable one.


Best of luck to you and your Troop!



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Hi Ken, your strenths are lacking in a lot of the SMs I know...and they need those skills more than they realise.


So lets look at these weaknesses of yours.


People skills are over rated. Unless you are a grump you should be right - provided you start with an attitude of care.


You dont need to be the centre of attention (you should not in fact),


you dont need to foresee the clashes of personality (just deal with them as they come without looking for a script),


you dont need that charismatic snap decisiveness seen on tv - we introverts do very well by being ready, having alternatives ready, having planned for worst case, being calm and relatively unemotional about things, being able to make the best decision even if it is unpopular,


You dont need lots of words - just make your words worthwhile - the boys will fill in any awkward silence, (besides what you do is more important than what you say)


If talking to groups terrifies you then just talk to your SPL and PLs - probably better if more of us did just that,


But if the job still terrifies you then find another SM candidate and stay on as ASM.


Whichever way you go just stay in Scouts because if your posts are any indication you are analytical, deliberate, carefull, planned, ready for the unexpected and being so you will avoid likely accidents, will solve most problems and important details will not be overlooked.


...and personally I think the camping skills are essential. If adults dont have them then they should get them as soon as possible.


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I am on my way out, and have just seen this thread for the first time. So forgive me if everything I say is just repetitious, as I have only read your original query.


River2K, you are very clear about your abillities and weaknesses. If I can trust them to be accurate, I would say that you could make a good SM. So go to the present SM and committee, and ask them to provide you with a couple of ASM's who will agree to be the support you need, and the three of you go and serve. YIS, paul

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With all the other experienced, qualified leaders, they asked you...there must be a reason. I believe it was Gen Patton who said "...never take counsel of your fears...". If you know the areas in which your experience, talent, or training is a little thin, find and work with people who can fill the gaps. You're surrounded by them -- we all are, but the best leaders spot them and use their abilities.


The Scouts are incredibly resilient; they will be as patient with you as you are with them. Don't scream unless it's a bona fide emergency.


The investment you make in training the SPL, PLs, and their assistants will pay off a hundred-fold as you see meetings and events run well, and as you watch the Scouts grow in confidence and ability.


Good luck.



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River2k --


Let me boil all this advice down to a few words, if I may be so bold as to speak for the others . . .


If it's okay with Mrs. River2k Take the job. Cast away your doubts and fears (or at least push them to the back of your mind) and enjoy. You'll learn more from the Scouts and they from you than you would anywhere else and the journey is fun, although life-changing, stuff.



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Well, I made the commitment at last night's troop meeting to accept the position of Scoutmaster in our Troop. I won't officially take over until Dec or Jan so I have plenty of time to work myself into the position.


Thanks for all the encouragement from those that responded to my questions. I believe I learned more here than I did at the district training sessions.


I'm attempting to push all my fears to the back of my mind and concentrate on planning. If I can keep the 'doubts' out of my mind I believe I'll be successful.



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This is super good news.

I wish you all the very best.

Time spent with lads of Scout age, may have its ups and downs. But one kid, one smile and one kind word from a boy is worth a mint.

Cubmasters, Den Leaders, Scoutmasters and those working with Crews are the important people who deliver the program to the people who really count.

Enjoy it.


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Yes, congratulations!


If it means anything, it must be a great job. Our SM and two ASMs both stayed on after their sons graduated out of the Troop. The program must have something to offer back!


Best of luck. Look forward to hearing about your fun (OK, and maybe a problem or two, if you have them).



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