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Stosh

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IMHO, I'd like to reverse that. I'd like SPL to take charge in April or May. IMHO, SPLs are much better SPLs after having run the troop summer camp. There is nothing better to teach an SPL his job than getting the troop moving at summer camp, attending camp leader meetings, using their patrol leaders and representing the troop and even simple things like making sure the final patrol lines are cleaning before we leave summer camp. Then for the rest of their year, they are comfortable taking charge, knowing their role ... AND ALSO ... the other scouts know to look to the SPL for leadership and coordination. I think it would make the rest of the year go better.

 

This is exactly why I don't use an SPL In the structure described here, there is no room for any PL's and the ground work for a non-patrol-method troop is reinforced. If the other scouts know to look to the SPL for leadership and coordination, what's the sense in even having PL's and patrols?

 

Running the troop? I don't think so, I'd rather have a meddling ASM in that role than a semi-experienced boy fouling things up. So for the rest of the year after the SPL has "run" the show at summer camp, what's their role for the rest of the year?

 

Sorry, but too often the respect necessary for PL's to effectively manage a patrol-method troop is quickly stripped away with meddling SPL's. The old training material made it very clear that if respect and trust is going to develop within a patrol, outside influences need to stay out of the picture, i.e. SPL, ASM's and SM included. Even the simple things like making sure the final patrol lines are cleaning before we leave summer camp is the PL's responsibility, or in this case, just another scout with no real job needing to be done, the SPL has it covered, the PL just wears a patch and collects rank advancement credit. He's the #1 follower in the patrol, never the leader.

 

Stosh

 

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But Stosh, even in the "old training material" there was still room for an SPL, and a JASM for that matter. My father was both, and he "aged out" 70 years ago. I don't know how much further back those positions go, maybe they go back to the beginning. The point is, they are not some new invention designed to rob the PL's of their place at the top of your organizational chart.

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This is exactly why I don't use an SPL .... Stosh

 

I'm really confused. Though I often differ from your posts, your post seems out in left field. How do you not have an SPL? Who directs your patrol leaders? The only time you don't need an SPL is when you have one patrol. i.e. that patrol leader is effectively also the SPL.

 

We've had times where we've had four or five patrols at camp. Who tells the patrol leaders to get their groups organized? Who works out with the patrol leaders who cleans which area? Who assigns service and program to the patrols? I'm assuming it's not an adult.

 

I'm not as militant as most, but my rule of thumb is remove the adults whenever possible ... and it's usually possible.

 

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Like WB and IOLS where the patrol-method is taught, not many go back and actually use it as it is intended. Same and probably even more so, are the SPL's functions.

 

How do I have have an SPL? Okay, at summer camp, my PL went to the SPL functions. That was painless and being the only PL of the troop, it worked out just fine just like you said. :)

 

Who directs my PL's? NO ONE, they direct their patrols and if they need help (NOT DIRECTIVES) they have resources to call upon, the SPL and SM being some of them, maybe if they need equipment for their patrol they might call on the troop's QM or maybe if they are a new patrol they might ask advice from the TG. But no one directs them with any mandates. They are all autonomous units within the troop and the PL's run their program for their patrol.

 

Who works out with the patrol leaders who cleans which area? They are hugely separated from each other, 50-100 yards apart, and they clean up their own areas where their patrols reside. No one tells them to do this, it is assumed as part of the PL's responsibility and training.

 

Who assigns service and program to the patrols? The PL's work with their patrols to come up with their own service and program projects and relay that information to the adults or troop leaders if they need support in what they have decided, i.e. rides, equipment, etc.

 

I'm assuming it's not an adult. You can be guaranteed of that! :)

 

Unlike most troops where the SPL is taught to run the whole show, my SPL's have been merely figure head, fill in as needed by the activity (summer camp SPL). He is, however, the senior most PL and the #1 resource that the active PL's can turn to for support and help when they run up against a problem they are struggling with. My SPL's are "selected" by consensus of PL's in that they identify which person in the troop they feel comfortable with seeking out advice and support. If I have 2 patrols, either of the PL's can be "SPL" in that if one is having difficulties, he can turn to the other and 2 weeks down the road, those roles might be reversed. A PLC of two members is pretty lame. They can hold PLC meetings over the phone if necessary. Usually neither of my PL's really want to be SPL in that they prefer the real work of being a PL.

 

This is why I don't like an "official" SPL because they basically are like the fire department. They haven't got much to do until something happens and he's called up by a PL to assist in solving the problem. I see too many tyrant SPL's out there dictating and telling everyone what to do and basically undermines the authority of the PL's to the point where they become useless and the patrol-method quickly collapses into the troop-method with SPL trying to run the whole show and 99% of the time doing a really poor job. Once that happens, the adults need to step in and keep things on an even keel and now you have adult-led, troop-method troops. It's the natural consequences of a SM top down structure instead of a supported PL program.

 

I'm not saying the SPL is a totally useless position, but one needs enough patrols to warrant the need for a full-time SPL. In a larger troop of 4-5+ patrols, I can see a highly trained, supportive scout with extensive PL experience stepping up and HELPING the other PL's with running their patrols. The boy they can turn to with guidance and wisdom to really help and not take over and run the show, but respect the position of the PL and never undermine it by doing their work, especially in front of their patrol members which I see going on in other troops all the time. And by the way, if the SPL is doing that, the SM probably is as well by dictating to the SPL what he's supposed to dictate to the PL's. THAT IS NOT BOY-LED, it is SM-LED!

 

Stosh

 

Oh, by the way, the JASM is just another cog to get fouled up with older boys interfering with the patrol-method. If an Eagle Scout is the best PL of the troop he should be the SPL not a JASM. Oh, but that takes away a POR position for advancement. So what. I want my best scout in the important positions to help out. If a good PL wants to stay PL for all 7 years of his scouting experience, he can do so in my troop. However, if he's really good, he's training a whole series of a APL's to take over other patrols as needed. If some scout just needs a POR for advancement, he can be one of the useless positions like historian, webmaster or librarian or he can journal his leadership for 6 months and get a POR through SM project option. The more resourceful and helpful a boy becomes is the ultimate goal.

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And by the way, if the SPL is doing that, the SM probably is as well by dictating to the SPL what he's supposed to dictate to the PL's. THAT IS NOT BOY-LED, it is SM-LED!

 

Stosh

And I think that pretty much explains your cynical view of the scout program. You are out to prove Stosh Scouts is the best program, not Boy Scouts. You make it up as you go along then call it Scouting. Oh, you aren't the first, Kudu has a big jump. But Stoshs and Kudus come and go and leave little for others to follow and carry on. Remember Stosh, the saying goes that one man’s “boy run†is another man’s door to being the puppet master. What is rule number three of your three basic rules? "If the SM doesn't like the way scouts do the first two rules, the SM takes over." From my perspective, "THAT IS NOT BOY-LED, it is called SM-LED!

 

The SPL is a position for assisting the PLs to run their programs. They come off as the scout in charge by outsiders because they stand in front of the troop during assemblies. But a mature troop guides and teaches their SPL to serve the PLs by helping them grow from their experience. The SPL can be a teacher, guide, mentor and cheerleader. The SPL should be a senior scout who has the experience and knowledge to help the PLs grow in areas like leadership, followship, meeting organization, group organization and servant leadership. In most cases the SPL should do most of the teaching by simply setting an example. The SPL should run his meeting exactly the way the PLs should run Patrol Corners. The SPL works personally with the PLs exactly the same as they should work with their patrol. The SPL is a servant to the PLs and needs serve exactly the same way the PLs are servants to the patrols.

 

A good SPL will let the situations come to him and then attend to the situation by guiding the scout to create a solution and act. Most new PLs struggle with leadership because while their position gives them the authority, they may not have yet earned the respect of his fellow scouts as being the leader. That is where the SPL should help the PL grow in the position by using tools like conflict resolution, rosters, and delegated shared tasks among the team. I found my new SPLs struggle to just stand and wait for situations, they want to dive into everything because they know the answers and have yet to develop the patience to let the other scouts figure it out. Hmm, sound like adults, doesn’t it. But the SPL is a growing position just as much as any other POR. Who should the SPL use as an example of his responsibilities, the adults and more senior scouts.

 

Where many Troops fail with the SPL is they put an inmature scout in the position who doesn’t have the skills to help the PLs grow in their positions. So yes many times they end up dictating what the SM tells them because neither the SM nor the SPL really know what to do. But that is not a flaw of the SPL position, it is a flaw in the adults not yet understanding scout growth. These are common skills that just about all troops and ALL adults have to learn to develop. How do we adults learn? By doing and then evaluating the results and changing to do it better next time. Kudus and Stoshs are rare, the rest of us aren’t born as perfect scout leaders. We have to humbly learn and grow.

 

The SPL like the JASM are wonderful growth opportunities for scouts who have reached that level of maturity. When the adults start to use the positions from that perspective growth instead instead of requirements for rank, then all the PORs seem to step up in growth and the troop as a whole becomes much more mature. A troop is only as good as its senior leadership. You can observe that in every troop. Look for it at next summer camp. You will see what I mean. But the real trick is that true growth comes from the young scouts observing the older scouts in action.

 

Barry

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"What is rule number three of your three basic rules? "If the SM doesn't like the way scouts do the first two rules, the SM takes over." From my perspective, "THAT IS NOT BOY-LED, it is called SM-LED!

 

Well, when one directly misquotes another person's posting, it has a ring of an insincere agenda to it, too.

 

Just for the record. My rule #3 has always been "Have fun" and I seriously doubt that that falls into any SM-LED definition in anyone's book. And also for the record, ANYONE, other youth, adult leader, parent or bystander has the right to step in and correction an infraction to any of my three rules, not just the SM.

 

And if anyone were to look at the PL Handbook, it clearly states the PL should be a servant leader and I would assume that this would apply to the SPL as well. Of course it would be difficult to stretch a definition of mandates, directives and assignments as servant leadership.

 

" But the real trick is that true growth comes from the young scouts observing the older scouts in action." I prefer the teaching method rather than the standing around and hoping the osmosis method works which often doesn't because each boy is unique and the style of one doesn't work for the next one.

 

I can't speak for Kudu, but I find it rather strange that a lot of the problems described on this form haven't been a problem with me in the 40+ years of working with youth, 30+ of them in scouting. It just leaves me wondering what I'm doing differently. Whatever it is, I'm going to continue doing it.... if it ain't broke, don't fix it. If my suggestions help someone, great, if not, just ignore them and skip over to the next thread.

 

Stosh

 

And as a foot note, I found it difficult to read what you posted as being different than what I was saying.

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Hopefully this isn’t straying too far off-topic, but…

 

I fought the Stosh’s idea that an SPL isn’t needed for a long time. I wrote off the ineffectiveness of our SPL to inexperience and immaturity (we had a very young troop). Then, we had a 16 yo boy transfer in from another troop (his family moved). Suddenly, we had a boy with age, experience, and drive. He was quickly elected SPL by the boys (who practically worshipped him) and suddenly PLCs were snappy, I could step back during Troop Meetings and just watch them run, and all was right in the world.

 

When summer camp came, I started discussing where the different patrols would camp, and he said, “well, Summer Camp is more of a Troop Activity, so I don’t worry about keeping the patrols separate.†I wasn’t sure if I bought that, but didn’t see any reason to override him. So, we basically had 20 Troop Members and an SPL running the show at Summer Camp. It went okay, but I think it set a bad precedent, because now at our regular campouts, even though each of the 3 patrols try to camp separately, the SPL is still running around, running the show. The PLs (all younger) have stepped back and let him do it. So now, instead of being “adult-ledâ€Â, our troop is “SPL-ledâ€Â. And unfortunately, his family is moving again, so all that leadership is heading out the door.

 

So, I’ve come around to Stosh’s way of thinking. I considered removing the SPL outright, but it felt a bit too heavy-handed. And when I suggested to the PLC that we might not need it, they resisted, as I expected. It’s a glamour position and a goal for them. So I think I’m just going to change the rules a bit -- the SPL will have the same rules I give the ASMs: don’t direct scouts – only interfere if there’s a safety issue. All direction should go through PLs, and only then if they really need it.

 

 

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dfscott - You have learned a valuable lesson on how quickly the dynamics of a group can change when someone comes along and takes a pass on the appropriate protocol. It didn't have to be a charismatic SPL to pull it off, it could be a natural leader JASM, ASM or even SM where the boys all quickly learn THEY don't have to do any leading and just sit back and let the charismatic person do it all for them. They have mastered this skill of letting their parents do it all for them and helicopter parents play right into this and maintain the childishness of their child well into their teens.

 

Only when one recognizes this possibility will they have a little red flag pop up in the back of their head to warn them of the impending cliff. "I wasn’t sure if I bought that, but didn’t see any reason to override him." :) That was the little red flag.... "The PLs (all younger) have stepped back and let him do it." That was little red flag #2.

 

"And unfortunately, his family is moving again, so all that leadership is heading out the door." and now you know the task ahead, start teaching leadership all over again. This will be an excellent opportunity to say, we can't have all leadership in the hands of just one person, everyone has to step up, not just the SPL or you're gonna burn out the SPL in just a few months. A natural leader as you had will run circles around the glamor scout that doesn't have what it takes to make it go. His credibility will turn south quickly. You need to make sure he and every PL get back on the track of focusing on the responsibility of their small group, i.e. the patrols and that the SPL is there as the #1 resource for help and he won't be doing it all for them anymore. "the SPL will have the same rules I give the ASMs: don’t direct scouts – only interfere if there’s a safety issue. All direction should go through PLs, and only then if they really need it." YES, YES, YES! Only one small change "....and only then if they ask for help." I might think they "need" it and step in just when the boy was on the brink of a personal breakthrough! Let them struggle, they'll learn quicker if they have to struggle a bit.

 

Best of luck!

 

Stosh

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... the SPL is still running around' date=' running the show. The PLs (all younger) have stepped back and let him do it. [/quote']

I think that's the crux of the problem. It's not obvious to most PLs that they are in charge of anything and most boys do not have the confidence to say "no this is my decision" so they back off. It doesn't matter if it's the SPL, the ASPL, or any adult higher up the org chart. If all these people understand this then good things can happen, and that seems to be Barry's point. But I also understand some of Stosh's insistence that it's quite easy for things to get out of hand when the SPL or an adult starts telling the PLs what to do. And as soon as that happens the PLs will back off right away. I see it over and over and I spend a lot of time telling some people to back off and PLs that some decision does belong to them. It's very fragile.

 

My troop just elected a new SPL and we talked about his responsibility. I told him he's supposed to be working himself out of a job. If the PLs are doing their job's perfectly then he has nothing to do. So the PLs are responsible for their patrols, the calendar, and the other PORs. I don't think he'll get there but that's the goal. His first move was to get rid of the ASPL position. In a way, it makes sense. If a troop with one or two patrols doesn't need a SPL, then maybe a troop with six patrols doesn't need an ASPL. We'll find out. The question is can the SPL work with six PLs and can the six PLs work with the other PORs. If everyone sees their job as developing their replacement then I see it working. If everyone just wants to dictate, there's no way.

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I can see how the Troop management methods being discussed could be a huge success or spectacular failure. The idea that "natural leaders" will emerge and that the boys will elect them PLs is a fallacy. In my experience this works slightly less than half the time. Probably 80 percent of the Scouts don't want anything to do with leadership. Some of the rest who do aren't actually capable of leading but think they're better than everyone else if they can get elected. There are five competent, capable boys in my Troop - the boys just won't elect them even when they run for PL.

 

The past two years, we had a young, inexperienced but serious SPL and an older "avoider personality" SPL. The younger kid did a much better job of running the PLC's and keeping the Troop on track (although it took him a while to get out of the "barking orders" stage when he realized that wasn't working). The PLC could not have functioned without him because the PL's were all very young and could scarcely imagine looking ahead to next week much less next month. If they had been left to their own devices without a good SPL, Troop meetings would have consisted of opening and closing flag.

 

This past year's PLC was only slightly improved because the boys were a year older and we lucked out and got a more mature younger Scout elected in one of the Patrols, but they still could scarcely imagine looking forward to next week. The new SPL could not grasp his duties (despite training which he described as a "waste of time" and constant mentoring) and announced at the year's first campout that he "really didn't like camping."

 

Anyone who has an entire Troop of Scouts who actually care is truly blessed.

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Yeah, it's the strong attitudes like these that push my opinion to be flexible within the limits of BSA published guidance and then teach leadership by having the scouts do fun things. Leaders, scouts and situations turn over so much that all methods need to adjust to handle the current mix.

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"The new SPL could not grasp his duties (despite training which he described as a "waste of time" and constant mentoring) and announced at the year's first campout that he "really didn't like camping."

 

Obviously the boy is looking only for the patch and rank advancement credit for himself. He has no interest in looking out for anyone other than himself. I would question his honesty and trustworthiness for taking the position in the first place and I surely wouldn't give him credit for any time served as SPL.

 

My personal training mantra is "Take care of your boys!" ("Anyone who has an entire Troop of Scouts who actually care is truly blessed" - thanks for the quote scoutergipper!) Everything my boys do is always in context of that phrase. I don't care if he is the Scribe keeping advancement records, the Grubmaster, putting together a menu, the Quartermaster getting equipment ready for a patrol, they all have a focus on something other than themselves! The PL's are masters of this and that's what makes them good. If one doesn't like camping then don't volunteer to be PL where you're expected to get the boys out into the woods!

 

The phrase, Johnny is serving as PL this go around is dead on! Is he serving or is he just racking up advancement points while reveling in the glory of being a PL?

 

Am I inventing my own program on leadership or am I merely sticking closely to the principles of the BSA on leadership development?

 

"Probably 80 percent of the Scouts don't want anything to do with leadership." Well, in my troop leadership is not an option. I don't care whether or not one has a patch on their shirt or not at one time or another throughout a meeting, outing, or activity one has to step and and be the leader. EVERYONE has to lead. A group of leaders is what makes teamwork work. Everyone leads and takes care of everyone else. The PL makes sure everyone knows about the coming outing. The Scribe makes sure everyone pays the necessary fees so that food can be purchased. The QM makes sure the Grubmaster has the equipment, so that meals can be made for everyone. The Grubmaster makes sure he keeps an eye on the clock so that food goes on the table at the appropriate time. Okay, that 4 different people (1/2 a patrol) that work together, take the lead to make sure their responsibility is fulfilled and makes sure those that rely on them get what they need. It's called teamwork, or it's also called leadership.

 

I don't create Stosh Scouts that follow a program of what I tell them, I create Boy Scouts that lead their fellow scouts, or should I say take care of them. It's a concept put forth in the PL handbook, but like a lot of things in the BSA program, just doesn't get put into practice.

 

Stosh

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My troop just elected a new SPL and we talked about his responsibility. I told him he's supposed to be working himself out of a job. If the PLs are doing their job's perfectly then he has nothing to do. So the PLs are responsible for their patrols, the calendar, and the other PORs. I don't think he'll get there but that's the goal. His first move was to get rid of the ASPL position. In a way, it makes sense. If a troop with one or two patrols doesn't need a SPL, then maybe a troop with six patrols doesn't need an ASPL. We'll find out. The question is can the SPL work with six PLs and can the six PLs work with the other PORs. If everyone sees their job as developing their replacement then I see it working. If everyone just wants to dictate, there's no way.

 

If one has need of an SPL, they should also be large enough to need a functional ASPL.

 

The SPL is the "PL" of PL's and the ASPL is the "PL" of the other troop officers, i.e. Quartermaster, Scribe, Chaplain Aide, TG, Instructor, etc. If one has two patrols and one Dutch oven, does the oven go with the patrol that the QM is a member of? I like to pull the troop officers into their own patrol. For camping purpose, the SPL actually is a member of the ASPL's "patrol". When PL/patrols have need of a troop officer the PL's know they can coordinate it through the ASPL who knows where his patrol members are.

 

I'm thinking the Troop Officers should be training up their replacement with those in each of the patrols. Each patrol should have a QM, a CA, a Scribe, etc., too. It's all part of good communication and also a nice vehicle for mentoring new troop officers.

 

No one stands around doing nothing. They are all expected to produce a bit of leadership for the benefit of others throughout the gathering.

 

Stosh

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Stosh, the SPL wants the PLs to work with the other POR's. I like it because it gets the PLs closer to taking ownership of the troop. We'll see.

 

Scoutergipper, I was in a similar situation with PLs that played "nose goes" to figure out the next PL. Nobody wanted it. But I did notice that the scouts were very good about picking the best for OA. So I instituted a nomination process to pick the scouts that were even eligible for being a PL. So you can't run for being PL until you're nominated. A scout has to be first class and the majority of all scouts in the troop have to say he could be a PL. I get no say in who is eligible. It works amazingly well. Now I go and talk to the scouts that are close and ask them why they think they weren't nominated. I get some really honest answers and some scouts grow up a bit faster. I don't have a troop where everyone cares, it's probably half, but the PLs all care.

 

Something else that's related is some kids aren't lazy so much as they want real responsibility. The librarian will be the laziest scout because everyone knows if he doesn't do his job it has zero impact on the troop. The whole thing that got me started on getting good PLs was a scout that was fantastic working at summer camp but a complete slug in the troop. He told me the SPL had an important job and everyone knew the PLs had nothing important to do. At camp, if he screwed up, everyone knew it and a lot of people suffered, so he rose to the occasion. He liked that challenge.

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Stosh' date=' the SPL wants the PLs to work with the other POR's. I like it because it gets the PLs closer to taking ownership of the troop. We'll see..[/quote']

 

Not a problem... as well as it should be... The ASPL is there to backup the SPL and to function as patrol leader of the troop officers when the troop is in the field. He's the freelance leader that can step up and fill in for any of the other positions as needed. He should know as much about how things run as the SPL. Worse case scenario? He's the grubmaster for the troop officer patrol for the weekend. :) With patrols scattered all over the place, the PL goes to the troop officer area and inquires where the SPL/QM/CA is. The ASPL should know and be able to help the PL with his inquiry. It would not be very helpful if the PL had to run around looking in 6 different patrols for the QM when he could just go to the ASPL and get a quick answer.

 

Stosh

 

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