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ASM duties and appointment

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When speaking with our unit commissioner a couple of weeks ago about our charter, he asked me where all of our ASM were. We currently have five ASM on our roster, yet none of them are active. They include three troop alumni who have been active at some point (but not recently), a troop dad that got trained but helps out only every once in a while if he has time, and our former Scoutmaster (who stops by maybe once every couple of months but doesn't actually do anything). In short, we have no active ASM.


I recently sent a letter to each of the five ASM with two options: take on some regular responsibilities (they could have a say in what their responsibilities would be) or "resign" as an ASM. I mentioned in the letter that if they wanted to stay registered in the troop, then we could register them as a committee member.


My reasoning behind the request was that I feel an ASM should be an active position where they have regular responsibilities. At this point, all of our ASM's are honorary and I don't think we should have honorary positions. For our troop to grow and prosper, we need active people in those positions with defined responsibilities.


The first reply I got back (via email) was from the dad in the troop. He said that he wanted to discuss some ideas for responsibilities he could take on.


The second reply was from our former SM. He said that it was not my position to decide who was and who wasn't an ASM. It was the job of the troop committee. He also said that there wasn't a problem with having people in honorary positions. He also implied that we should just do things the way they were always done in the past.


What are the opinions of other forum members? Also, what are some duties that your ASM's have? BTW, I looked in my SM Handbook and I couldn't find anything on the subject.

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The handbook isn't the best place to look for that information. If you have one, look in the Troop Committee Guidebook for a complete job description. If you don't have the book, get one. The job description should look something like this...


Assistant Scoutmaster:


To fulfill obligations to the troop, the Scoutmaster, with the assistance of the troop committee, recruits assistant Scoutmasters to help operate the troop.


Each assistant Scoutmaster is assigned specific program duties and reports to the Scoutmaster.

Provide the required two-deep leadership standards set by the Boy Scouts of America.

May be 18 years old, but at least one in each troop should be 21 or older, so he or she can serve in the Scoutmasters absence.


Note that the words are..."with the assistance of the Troop Committee". The Troop Committee does not hold total jurisdiction in this instance. It is reasonable to expect that the Scoutmaster will have assistants that he/she has had a hand in recruiting so that the working relationship is one of mutual respect and understood expectations. Your past SM is wrong.


Note that the job descriptions in the Guidebook should be viewed as guiding, not absolute. The definitions shouldn't be viewed so absolute as to make inelligible any potential volunteer who had limited time, but unlimited energy. Accomodations can certainly be made in each ASM's defined role to suit their availablility. The most important issue is that each and every ASM work to support the Scoutmaster and the program. If an ASM isn't doing that, the position is wasted on him/her. I know of no official BSA recognized "honorary" positions within the troop structure. Such positions, if they exist at all, would be administered and recognized only by the individual troop. That, of course, does not infer that such a thing is a good thing...nor would it be bad, I suppose, depending on the position..., and the person.


Personal opinion...as a Scoutmaster? I'd only want ASM's that were active...as in being there most if not all the time when the troop is active in some function. I'd only want ASM's who would give of themselves in similar fashion to myself, being available as much as possible for the troop and the boys, in whatever time they had. Honorary wouldn't cut it with me. In my book, adult leader positions are supposed to be filled with folks who are interested in helping make the program go...not to sit and bask in the glory of accomplishments past or time in office, nor even as simple recognition in some fashion. I'd want folks who would be interested in actually participating and working.


I don't think you'd be out of line in recruiting new ASM's no matter what the other non-participatory ones you have now think or do. You can always go to the committee and work with them to decide where troop funds for registration are best spent...on those who work?...or those who watch. If you're the SM, you need those who will actually support you with their time and energy. You're doing yourself and the troop no favors by thinking otherwise.


Good Luck.


(This message has been edited by saltheart)

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By the book, I think your former SM is right. In SM Handbook, pg 157, it says TC selects quality leaders for the troop. (It also says on pg 156 that the CO has final approval of any adult leaders.)


I'm not sure it's written, but the SM should also have a say in his ASM staff, for obvious reasons - you must be able to work closely with these people.


I don't think your honorary ASMs necessarily cause you any problem, but you do need to get some active ones on board.


Start by talking to CC. See if there are any TC members who might better serve as ASMs. If you find some candidates there, one or both of you could ask them to consider. Also take a look at your troop roster to see if you find any other parents that stand out as candidates. Although technically a TC responsibility, I would suggest being involved in doing your own recruiting. I have found that a lot of parents are interested in helping once they are asked and understand what is expected.


In a lot of troops the distinction between SM staff and TC members is blurred, but in general, the SM staff is responsible for the troop's program and the committee supports it (more in the background).


We have a very large troop and a lot of ASMs. Most importantly, the SM needs one or two ASMs that are ready to step in and take the SM's place at a meeting or campout if the SM can't make it.


Other ASM positions we use:

High-Adventure -- this guy works with our ASPL for Hi-A to plan and carry out activities for older scouts.

OA Rep -- works with Scout OA Rep in troop to promote our participation in OA activities. (We recently formed our own ceremony team - the guys are loving it.)

Staff Support -- this ASM supports the SPL in working with troop staff positions, like Scribe, Historian, etc.

Skills -- this ASM works with our ASPL for Skills and his team of Instructors.

Leadership -- we have 3 ASMs that are dedicated to working with ASPLs and PLs to coach them on leadership.


In essence, we have a Scoutmaster Staff that mirrors the Scout staff to keep an eye on things and train/guide/coach as required. Our biggest challenge is to not get TOO involved - we must stand back and let the boys lead. SM has made it clear our objective is to work ourselves out of a job and into the camp chair by the fire.


Good luck!

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Our troop used to have lots of adults registered as committee members or Assistant Scoutmasters. Some were active. Others contributed nothing but were content to stay on the roster. Last year the committee decided that all registered adults would be asked to pay their own $10 registration fee. The active adults paid. Most of the others didn't pay and were dropped.

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Fscouter has a good practical solution. I know that this will sound incredible to some but an Assistant Scoutmaster's (SA), primary duty is to assist the Scoutmaster! By being non-active, it defeats the purpose. However, non-active committee members is just as bad. Only the CO approves and removes Scouters (other than the Scouter themself) so as a SM, you may ask the SAs to resign (or anyone else for that matter). However, your minor concern may be the financial drag of carrying individuals, at $10 a pop, who do not really contribute anything and your major concern is probably that you have no real functioning SAs! That wouldbe a big concern of mine.(This message has been edited by acco40)

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Thanks for the responses. Like Saltheart posted, an ASM is there to assistant the SM in guiding the Scouts in the troop. If the ASM isn't doing anything, then they aren't doing their job and shouldn't hold the position.


Many of the adults in my troop are reluctant to take on defined responsibilities. They are afraid that they'll have to put in as much work as I do (I really don't do that much, it just seems like it). They don't understand that if more people took on defined roles, then there is less work for each individual to do and more will get done.


Our former COR descibed it like this: Most people like to have a piece of pie with a meal once in a while. Some even like to have seconds at one sitting. However, if you had to eat that whole pie by yourself in one sitting, then you'd lose the joy in it.


Also, when you eat a pie, you slice it up. When a troop doesn't have defined responsibilities, then its like a bunch of people standing around and eating the pie without cutting it up or taking it out of the tin. Everyone would agree that a better way to eat the pie would be to slice it up and give everyone a piece.


One more part to this pie analogy. If you have enough people wanting pie, then everyone still wants more when they are done. That is when you bring in another pie (add more programs to the troop, etc.)


The idea of paying $10 to carry someone on the roster isn't the problem. The problem is I have no active ASM's. I'm also looking down the road. If I have someone who is an active ASM, then becomes inactive, I don't want them to say, "but you let him stay on as ASM and they aren't active!" My expectation is that when someone signs on as ASM, they are their to actively help the troop.


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We had a problem with a large number of inactive Scouters so the troop stopped paying their fees. Ba-boom, they all vanished.


I don't have a problem with a Scoutmaster emeritus but that's about it and only if he held the position for more than a couple years.



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