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Decision to accept Scoutmaster position

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Wow! How time flies. It's been 3.5 months since I officially became Scoutmaster of our troop. It hasn't been all cake and ice cream, but there have been some fun moments. I still don't feel qualified for the job but it's getting slightly easier. We've had 3 successful campouts this year: A JLT program, Winter campout (with a few tents collapsing from the snow we got), and a backpacking trip which we covered at least 5 miles.


Some of the biggest problems that keep reoccuring are: 1. SPL doesn't do what he's supposed to (doesn't plan for anything, showed up to 1 of 3 PLC's, yells, sets a poor example) 2. Very little advancement seems to be taking place. 3. Participation in campouts is low compared to last year. 4. Older Scouts are dropping out.


One of the Scouts is going for his Eagle BOR this Wednesday. I think that's pretty awesome. I'm afraid he will become less involved in the troop though once he gets this rank, as others have done. I don't know how to draw the older Scouts back in. Any suggestions?


I feel like I'm too involved in planning activities and can't focus on the indivual Scouts. I probably need to delegate more. I would appreciate any comments.





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Training and feedback are continuous; I'm assuming the SPL wants the job and wants to get better. Use every opportunity as a teaching moment.


On advancement, have the SPL put the PLs' feet to the fire. Use patrol record books so that every PL should have his Scouts' advancement status at his fingertips. Designate an ASM to track advancement on the BSA wall chart (laminated at Kinko's so you can erase and use over), and display that thing prominently at every meeting.


Low camping turnout? What changed from last year to this year? What are you doing at your campouts? Are they tied to the Troop program feature of the month; are advancement opportunities built in to the campout plan? If not, may account for some of your issue #2.


Attrition? Consider forming a Venture patrol within the Troop, and let the older Scouts plan "older Scout" adventures that are more age-appropriate. Start out simple, with a hike, water-park trip, handgun shooting at a range, or some other activity the younger lads can't do. Most understand their responsibility to younger Scouts, but they also don't want to be "full-time babysitters" either. Keep it relevant to them and they'll stay.


Eagles quitting? I'm a firm believer we do that to ourselves. Eavesdrop on almost any SM conference, regardless of rank, and you'll likely hear that earning their Eagle should be every Scout's goal. They internalize it, and when they earn Eagle, they've reached their goal, so they go do something else. I try to portray Eagle as a goal, but only an intermediate goal. I promote palms, adult leadership, OA, camp staffs, etc.


Delegating is great, and liberating. But, in order to do it, you need other adult vols who are as committed as you are. Nothing's worse than handing something over to someone who doesn't have the inclination or opportunity to get it done. Odds are, you've got at least one ASM who wants this to succeed as much as you do. Use those guys, and try not to burn them up at the same time.


Do you have a unit commissioner? Have you picked other SMs brains at Roundtables or district events?


Good luck.



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KS, thanks for the reply and suggestions. I hold them in high regard.


>"Low camping turnout? What changed from last year to this year? What are you doing at your campouts? Are they tied to the Troop program feature of the month; are advancement opportunities built in to the campout plan?"<


About the only thing that's changed is the boy leadership and Scoutmaster. One of my goals has been to plan campouts in different and exciting places. New places where the troop hasn't camped before. They seem very successful with the Scouts that do attend, its just getting others to attend. Maybe it will just take time. The month's theme at the troop meeting is always tied to the campout. We are a little weak in providing advancement opportunities on the campouts though, which is due to nobody planning them. That task could be delegated to an ASM (thinking to myself). The SPL seems to have no motivation in that direction, even with my prodding.





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Not knowing the situation of your SPL (whether he's star, life, or eagle) ... you always have the tools of last resort:


- Scout Spirit and certifying his office for advancement ... or certifying his leadership if he's Eagle and seeking palms. Those are YOUR call. The advancement chair loads Troopmaster with info you give him. If you say "X didn't step up to the plate" as SPL, the time doesn't count.


I'd be talking with (in order) the boys parents, the CC, and the COR about the quality of your SPL's leadership. There may be personal issues you don't know about yet. There may also be a case of low standards, low expectations.


Has your SPL been to unit JLT or Brownsea? It might be worth encouraging him for one or more of these.


If you have a JASM, he might be a useful peer for some guidance to the young man.


A tactic a SM friend I know used ... SPL didn't show up at PLC before campout, didn't show up at campout. ASPL followed SPLs lead. SM put onus of coordination and leadership on most mature PL in the field. Next PLC, the patrol leaders asked "how do we get rid of a worthless SPL?" Shortly the troop had a recall election.


Scouts aren't dumb. SPL was out of office.


Thoughts. Take them for whatever they are worth.

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One thing I would recomend to you. Let the Scouts plan their outings. It might be that your low attendance is because they are doing what you want, not what they want. If they pick the place to go, and the program they are going to do on that outing, then they buy into the outing.


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Our SPL is 15 going on 16, Life rank, been in the troop for at least 4 years, his mom & dad are presently going through a divorce. He was the only Scout to run for SPL so the troop had little choice. He did an excellent job at summer camp last year helping out younger Scouts, although he was not in a leadership position. He's had troop JLT but nothing as formal as Brownsea or Council JLT. He served as SPL about 2 years ago and I believe he thinks he knows it all. (Don't all teens?) His Dad is an ASM that hasn't been active all year. Talking to the dad is something I should do. I would desperately like to help the SPL but I get the message of "your bothering me" whenever I call him. I'm going to keep trying.


The troop plans their own yearly program but few Scouts take "ownership" of the plan. The next yearly planning campout is in May. I'm afraid coming up with a plan will be like pulling teeth, painful and difficult to get out.



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I joined our Troop as Committee Chairman (why I took on that job immediately is a long story...perhaps someday 'round the campfire) when my son was 11. He will soon be 23 and is still an active ASM.

About 9 years ago if someone would have told me I would go to (what was then Scoutmaster Fundamental Training) I would have said you're crazy. I went, loved it and it inspired me to create a year-long Troop Junior Leader Training Course.

About 5 years ago if someone would have told me that I'll be going to Wood Badge, I would have said IMPOSSIBLE...no time for THAT. I went, it was incredible (One of the first in our region to do the 21st. Century Course).

If 3 years ago someone would have told me I would be on Wood Badge Staff I would have said...I don't think I really have the talent for that. Last year...Troop Guide NEIII-163.

I assumed the role of Scoutmaster last December because our prior Scoutmaster (a dear old friend who is still with us) had just had enough after 14 years.

If someone would have said when I joined that someday you'll be the Scoutmaster...I would have said, YEAH RIGHT...GET THERAPY!

Best and most rewarding decision I ever made. You should make that decision too. I agree with many of the others, your strengths WILL get stronger and your weaknesses will slowly melt away. Just surround yourself with the right people to make the program happen the way you would like and VALUE their friendship & opinion even if it sometimes means swaying to the other side. That's not losing control, that's diplomacy.

Best of luck and it seems you'll do well. For anyone to even post here and ask strangers their opinion says a lot for you.

Good Scouting www.scouter659.htmlplanet.com

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